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The Science of Love, Desire and Attachment | Huberman Lab Podcast #59



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Welcome to the Huberman Lab Podcast,
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where we discuss science and science-based tools
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for everyday life.
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I'm Andrew Huberman,
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and I'm a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology
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at Stanford School of Medicine.
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Today, we are going to talk about the psychology
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and the biology of desire, love, and attachment.
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Today happens to be Valentine's Day, 2022.
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However, the themes we are going to discuss
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pertain to desire, love, and attachment
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on any given day.
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And indeed, the mechanisms we are going to discuss
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almost certainly were at play thousands of years ago,
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hundreds of years ago,
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and no doubt will still be at play in our minds
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and in our bodies and in our psychologies
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for the decades, centuries, and thousands of years to come.
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Indeed, today, I want to focus on core mechanisms
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that lead individuals to seek out other individuals
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with whom to mate with,
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with whom to have children with or not,
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with whom to enter short or long-term relationships with,
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and perhaps to end those relationships
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or to seek relationships on the side,
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so-called infidelity.
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I'm certainly not going to encourage or discourage
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any of these behaviors.
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I'm simply going to cover the peer-reviewed scientific data
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on all these aspects of desire, love, and attachment.
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I'm going to discuss how our childhood attachment styles,
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as they're called, influence our adult attachment styles.
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Yes, you heard that right.
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How we attached or did not attach to primary caregivers
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in our childhood has much to do with how we attach
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or fail to attach to romantic partners as adults,
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because the same neural circuits,
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the neurons and their connections in the brain and body
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that underlie attachment between infant and caregiver,
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between toddler and parent or other caregiver,
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and during adolescence and in our teenage years,
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are repurposed for adult romantic attachments.
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I know that might be a little eerie to think about,
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but indeed that is true.
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Now, the fortunate thing is that regardless
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of our childhood attachment styles and experiences,
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the neural circuits for desire, love, and attachment
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are quite plastic.
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They are amenable to change in response
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to both what we think and what we feel,
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as well as what we do.
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However, all three aspects that we're discussing today,
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desire, love, and attachment,
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are also strongly biologically driven.
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We're going to talk about biological mechanisms
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such as hormones, biological mechanisms
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such as neurochemicals, things like dopamine,
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oxytocin, and serotonin, and neural circuits, brain areas,
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and indeed areas of the body that interact with the brain
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that control whether or not we desire somebody or not,
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whether or not we lose or increase our desire
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for somebody over time, whether or not we fall in love,
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what love means, and whether or not the relationships
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we form continue to include the elements of desire
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and love over time or not.
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In order to illustrate just how powerfully our biology
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can shape our perception of the attractiveness
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of other people, I want to share with you the results
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of a couple of studies.
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Both studies explore how people rate
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other people's attractiveness.
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And in both studies, the major variable is that women
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are at different stages of their menstrual cycle.
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Now, in the first study, men are rating the attractiveness
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of women according to the smell of those women.
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Now, they're not smelling them directly.
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They're smelling clothing that women wore
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for a couple of days at different phases
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of their menstrual cycle.
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And what they find is that men will rate the odors of women
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as most attractive if those women wore those shirts,
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that clothing, in the pre-ovulatory phase of their cycle.
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Okay, so this is not to say that men do not find women
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attractive at other stages of their cycle.
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It is to say that men find women's odors
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particularly attractive if those odors were worn by women
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that are in the pre-ovulatory phase
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of their menstrual cycle, okay?
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Now, there was also a study that was done
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where women at different stages of their menstrual cycle
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are rating the odors of men.
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And a similar but mirror symmetric result was found
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such that women who are in the pre-ovulatory phase
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of their menstrual cycle will rate men's odors
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as more attractive than at other stages of their cycle.
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So the simple way to put this is that
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there seems to be something special
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about the pre-ovulatory phase of a woman's menstrual cycle
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that makes men rate them as more attractive
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during that time and women rate men as more attractive
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during that particular time as well.
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So this is a bi-directional effect.
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The way that the second study was done
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where women are rating men was not just to smell the odors
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of those men on t-shirts, they did that,
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but they correlated that with whether or not the shirts
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were worn by men that were particularly
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physically symmetrical.
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They actually had these men divided into groups,
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it was more of a continuum rather,
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rated according to body symmetry and face symmetry.
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And women preferred more symmetrical men
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when they were doing the preference test
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during the pre-ovulatory phase of their cycle.
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So again, the point is that pre-ovulatory phase of the cycle
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seems to create a bi-directional mutual attractiveness.
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Now also extremely interesting is that this effect
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does really seem to have something to do with ovulation
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because in both studies,
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they had women that were taking oral contraception or not.
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And what they found was
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if a woman is taking oral contraception,
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it prevented that peak in perceived attractiveness
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by the men, meaning men no longer perceived a woman
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to be more attractive at a particular phase of their cycle.
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And also women taking oral contraception
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no longer preferred the odors of more symmetrical men
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during the pre-ovulatory phase of their cycle.
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Now I want to make sure that it's especially clear
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that it is not the case that oral contraception
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reduced the perception of a woman as attractive,
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that did not happen in these studies.
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It reduced the further increase
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in a male's perception of her as attractive.
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And if women took oral contraception,
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it prevented them from preferring more symmetrical men
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based on the odors of those men.
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Now I realize there are a lot of variables here.
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We've got odors, we've got symmetry,
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we've got menstrual cycle, pre-ovulatory, non-pre-ovulatory,
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and we have whether or not
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people are taking contraception or not.
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But the basic finding is that depending on where women are
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in their menstrual cycle influences both men's perception
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of them as attractive
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and their perception of men as attractive.
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And oral contraception eliminates that effect.
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So I share with you those data to illustrate
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that we often think that somebody is attractive or not
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based on, I don't know how they look,
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their skin, their hair, et cetera.
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But it also illustrates that their odor is a powerful cue
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for some people more than others.
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Some of us tend to be more olfactory driven than others.
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Although if you watched the Huberman Lab podcast episode
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that I did with Professor David Buss
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from the University of Texas, Austin,
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who's a luminary in the field of evolutionary psychology
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and has studied mate choice
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and mate selection bias over decades.
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He's really one of the founders of that field.
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He emphasized findings that odor for many people
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is a maker or a deal breaker.
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Meaning there are some people that even if somebody
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has all the characteristics that they're looking for
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in terms of kindness and attractiveness and values
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and other features that would and should be
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of very high priority in selecting a mate,
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that if someone does not like the way that person smells,
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their innate body odor, independent of colognes
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and perfumes and soaps, et cetera,
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that that's often a complete and total deal breaker.
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I'm sure there are some of you that can relate to that.
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And there are some of you perhaps for which
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that is not the case.
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And you can't even imagine that
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being such a powerful variable.
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And yet the data suggests that indeed
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it is a powerful variable for many people out there.
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Before we begin, I'd like to emphasize
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that this podcast is separate
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from my teaching and research roles at Stanford.
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It is however, part of my desire and effort
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to bring zero cost to consumer information about science
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and science-related tools to the general public.
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In keeping with that theme,
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I'd like to thank the sponsors of today's podcast.
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but also it provides some directives
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00:13:59.240
that can help bring those measurements into the ranges
link |
00:14:01.640
that are best for your immediate and long-term health.
link |
00:14:04.160
If you'd like to try Inside Tracker,
link |
00:14:05.600
you can visit insidetracker.com slash Huberman
link |
00:14:08.160
to get 20% off any of Inside Tracker's plans.
link |
00:14:10.900
Just use the code Huberman at checkout.
link |
00:14:13.160
Let's talk about desire, love, and attachment.
link |
00:14:16.200
And of course, these are topics
link |
00:14:17.380
that grab tremendous interest,
link |
00:14:18.760
so it's worth us defining our terms a little bit
link |
00:14:21.760
before going any further.
link |
00:14:23.800
Of course, we can have many different kinds of loves.
link |
00:14:26.900
There's romantic love.
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00:14:28.280
There's love of family, so-called familial love.
link |
00:14:31.200
There's love of pets.
link |
00:14:32.600
We can even love objects,
link |
00:14:34.240
where we can feel as if we love objects.
link |
00:14:36.280
We can love certain activities.
link |
00:14:37.660
We can have friends that we love, and so on and so forth.
link |
00:14:40.220
The word love is used to encompass
link |
00:14:41.800
a lot of different types of relationships.
link |
00:14:44.400
Today, we are mainly going to be focused on romantic love
link |
00:14:47.860
and the neural mechanisms of romantic love.
link |
00:14:51.160
I want to acknowledge here at the outset
link |
00:14:52.760
that most of the studies of romantic love
link |
00:14:55.080
have focused on monogamous heterosexual love.
link |
00:14:58.820
And also, when we talk about studies focused on desire
link |
00:15:02.280
and attractiveness and attachment, that's also the case.
link |
00:15:05.240
And that simply reflects the general bias of the literature
link |
00:15:08.240
over the last 50 to 100 years.
link |
00:15:10.600
It does, of course, not rule out that similar
link |
00:15:13.160
or different mechanisms could be at play
link |
00:15:15.400
in non-monogamous relationships,
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00:15:17.540
in homosexual relationships,
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00:15:19.560
or in relationships of any kind or variation.
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00:15:22.880
It's also worth us defining our terms around desire.
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00:15:26.400
It can mean lust.
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00:15:28.120
It can mean the desire for long-term partnership.
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00:15:30.900
So we need to define our terms.
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00:15:32.200
And throughout, I will do my best
link |
00:15:33.920
to very carefully define what I mean by desire,
link |
00:15:37.300
what I mean by love, and what I mean by attachment.
link |
00:15:41.840
The formal study of love and desire and attachment
link |
00:15:46.320
goes back to the early 1900s.
link |
00:15:49.860
One of the classic studies on this is entitled
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00:15:52.640
Love and Desire.
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00:15:53.600
It was published in 1912 and really focused
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00:15:56.520
on two opposing themes within romance.
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00:16:01.040
One is love, which in that paper was really meant
link |
00:16:05.400
to include attachment and dependence
link |
00:16:08.080
or interdependence between individuals, right?
link |
00:16:11.600
And the other end of the spectrum being desire
link |
00:16:14.320
or the sexual desire for another.
link |
00:16:17.180
And romance was meant to encapsulate both those things,
link |
00:16:20.560
love and desire.
link |
00:16:22.280
And for much of the 1900s,
link |
00:16:25.300
it was thought that love and desire
link |
00:16:26.980
were on sort of opposing ends or in kind of a push-pull.
link |
00:16:30.240
And it was the dynamic push and pull
link |
00:16:32.360
between love and desire that one could define romance.
link |
00:16:37.960
And that actually led to much of what's out there
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00:16:40.320
in the psychological literature.
link |
00:16:42.200
Today, we are going to explore some neurobiological studies,
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00:16:46.080
some studies of the endocrine system,
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00:16:48.240
meaning the hormone system,
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00:16:49.440
that actually support that general model.
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00:16:51.320
And I'll point you toward what I think is a very useful book
link |
00:16:55.240
in thinking about how relationships
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00:16:57.760
can both form and last over long periods of time
link |
00:17:01.640
and how those relationships can include
link |
00:17:03.800
both desire and interdependence.
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00:17:07.880
I'll also talk about some studies
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00:17:09.520
that have really focused on why relationships succeed
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00:17:12.880
and why they fail and how that relates
link |
00:17:15.160
to whether or not there is sufficient amounts
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00:17:17.640
of attachment and desire.
link |
00:17:19.400
So today we're going to talk about the science
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00:17:20.740
and indeed you'll also get some tools.
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00:17:22.700
Those tools should be useful to you
link |
00:17:24.000
whether or not you happen to be in a relationship or not,
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00:17:27.160
whether or not you're seeking a relationship or not.
link |
00:17:29.300
I'd like to begin with an anecdote,
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00:17:30.940
and this is not an anecdote about my relationship history.
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00:17:34.640
It's a anecdote about my scientific history.
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00:17:38.080
When I started graduate school,
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00:17:39.480
the chairman of the department I was in at the time
link |
00:17:41.960
said to me, you know,
link |
00:17:43.720
most PhDs last longer than most marriages.
link |
00:17:47.160
And indeed he was right.
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00:17:48.640
And also most marriages in this country end in divorce.
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00:17:52.480
I think it's about 50% with a slight skew
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00:17:55.940
toward more ending in divorce than persist
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00:17:59.080
until death do them part.
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00:18:01.440
But nonetheless, it's about half
link |
00:18:03.780
and most marriages end before the eight-year period is up.
link |
00:18:07.840
Most PhDs take anywhere from four to nine years.
link |
00:18:11.680
So there was a bit of a smearing of averages there,
link |
00:18:13.840
but the point he was trying to make
link |
00:18:15.160
really landed home for me.
link |
00:18:17.200
It did not scare me out of relationships,
link |
00:18:20.260
nor did it scare me out of a PhD, obviously.
link |
00:18:23.040
What it did illustrate was that there's something
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00:18:25.960
about our attachment machinery that can be very,
link |
00:18:29.760
very compelling such that people take on
link |
00:18:32.160
tremendous levels of commitment.
link |
00:18:33.960
I have to imagine that most people enter marriages
link |
00:18:36.280
assuming that they're going to stay in those marriages.
link |
00:18:37.920
I don't think most people enter marriages
link |
00:18:40.040
thinking they're going to get divorced,
link |
00:18:41.480
but that if 50% of those commitments end in divorce,
link |
00:18:46.120
there must also be mechanisms
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00:18:47.840
by which our attachments can break.
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00:18:50.700
And today we're going to talk about
link |
00:18:52.040
both the forming of attachments
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00:18:53.640
and the breaking of attachments,
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00:18:55.320
what can prevent those breaks in attachments,
link |
00:18:57.640
and indeed what can lead to reattachments.
link |
00:19:01.000
There are biological mechanisms
link |
00:19:04.400
to desire, love, and attachment.
link |
00:19:06.880
That's abundantly clear.
link |
00:19:08.740
Now, there's a robust and very large literature
link |
00:19:12.520
in animal models.
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00:19:13.840
What I mean by that are field studies and laboratory studies
link |
00:19:17.340
in primates of different kinds,
link |
00:19:19.040
such as macaque monkeys or bonobos.
link |
00:19:22.240
People have looked at these sorts of things,
link |
00:19:23.940
believe it or not, in ducks, in laboratory mice,
link |
00:19:26.760
in different types of birds, et cetera.
link |
00:19:29.480
And if you look at that literature,
link |
00:19:30.800
you can essentially find biological examples
link |
00:19:34.640
in the animal kingdom for just about any behavior
link |
00:19:37.120
that you can easily map to human behavior.
link |
00:19:39.800
So for instance,
link |
00:19:41.280
there's a species of animal called the prairie vole.
link |
00:19:43.800
In one portion of the United States,
link |
00:19:46.300
this prairie vole species is monogamous.
link |
00:19:48.400
They only mate with one other prairie vole,
link |
00:19:51.560
only raise young with one other prairie vole
link |
00:19:53.520
for their entire life.
link |
00:19:55.480
And in another region of the United States,
link |
00:19:58.040
the same species of animal, the prairie vole,
link |
00:20:01.080
will mate with many individuals.
link |
00:20:02.720
They're non-monogamous.
link |
00:20:04.040
And the major difference, at least as far as we know,
link |
00:20:06.380
between the prairie voles in one location
link |
00:20:08.360
and another location is the levels of a molecule
link |
00:20:11.920
called vasopressin in the brain and body.
link |
00:20:13.920
Vasopressin is present in humans.
link |
00:20:16.000
It has numerous biological roles.
link |
00:20:18.360
It's responsible, for instance,
link |
00:20:19.840
for controlling the amount of urine that you excrete,
link |
00:20:22.400
the amount of water that you retain,
link |
00:20:24.080
and for sexual desire, as well as mate seeking.
link |
00:20:29.740
Levels of vasopressin in prairie voles
link |
00:20:31.680
are strongly determinant of whether or not a prairie vole
link |
00:20:35.400
is going to be monogamous or non-monogamous.
link |
00:20:38.320
Why do I raise this?
link |
00:20:39.220
Well, I raise this because the literature on prairie voles
link |
00:20:43.520
is quite beautiful and has been discussed quite a lot
link |
00:20:47.000
in the popular press.
link |
00:20:47.820
You can look it up with an easily just a web engine search.
link |
00:20:50.980
You'll find lots of information about this,
link |
00:20:52.520
lots of news articles about this and lots of interpretations
link |
00:20:55.680
as to how vasopressin might be involved
link |
00:20:57.560
in similar or different mechanisms in humans.
link |
00:21:00.600
Now, I don't have a problem
link |
00:21:02.320
with mapping animal studies to humans.
link |
00:21:04.280
I think there's certainly a place for that.
link |
00:21:06.160
But if we just sort of lean back and look at the giant mass
link |
00:21:10.360
of studies in animals and their mating behavior
link |
00:21:13.920
and their mate selection behavior,
link |
00:21:15.440
you can essentially find examples of anything.
link |
00:21:17.840
You can find examples of polygamy.
link |
00:21:20.000
You can find examples of cheating, of infidelity.
link |
00:21:23.400
You can find examples of all sorts of different behaviors
link |
00:21:26.160
that in your own mind, you can map to human behavior.
link |
00:21:29.280
But it's really hard to make the leap from animal models
link |
00:21:32.560
to humans in any kind of direct way.
link |
00:21:34.560
And so thankfully there's been tremendous work done
link |
00:21:37.840
in the last mainly 20 years or so
link |
00:21:40.240
looking at human mate selection, human desire,
link |
00:21:43.440
human love and human attachment.
link |
00:21:45.440
So we're mainly going to focus on those studies today
link |
00:21:47.440
and where appropriate, we will map those findings
link |
00:21:50.880
back to the findings in animals
link |
00:21:52.720
to see if there are some universal truths
link |
00:21:55.080
or some universal principles about how the neural circuits
link |
00:21:58.280
and biological mechanisms work.
link |
00:22:00.000
But by and large, we're going to focus
link |
00:22:01.160
on human studies today.
link |
00:22:02.300
So unless I say otherwise,
link |
00:22:03.680
the data that I'm referring to today
link |
00:22:05.080
are entirely from human beings.
link |
00:22:07.160
So let's talk about attachment and attachment styles.
link |
00:22:10.240
And this will offer you the opportunity
link |
00:22:11.840
to answer some important questions for yourself,
link |
00:22:15.120
such as what is my, meaning your,
link |
00:22:18.240
attachment style in relationship?
link |
00:22:21.820
One of the most robust findings in the field of psychology
link |
00:22:25.340
is this notion of attachment styles.
link |
00:22:27.680
And this was something that was discovered
link |
00:22:29.620
through a beautiful set of studies
link |
00:22:31.280
that were done by Mary Ainsworth in the 1980s
link |
00:22:34.740
in which she developed a laboratory condition
link |
00:22:37.240
called the strange situation task.
link |
00:22:39.880
Now, the strange situation task has been studied
link |
00:22:42.520
over and over again in different cultures,
link |
00:22:45.120
in different locations throughout the world.
link |
00:22:47.360
And in preparing for this episode,
link |
00:22:49.580
I actually spoke to three different psychologists.
link |
00:22:51.400
I spoke to a psychoanalyst,
link |
00:22:52.720
I spoke to a cognitive behavioral psychologist,
link |
00:22:54.580
and I actually spoke to a psychiatrist,
link |
00:22:56.040
excuse me, not a psychologist,
link |
00:22:57.160
but a psychiatrist with a medical degree and asked,
link |
00:23:00.240
is the strange situation task
link |
00:23:01.960
and the various attachment styles
link |
00:23:03.880
that emerge from that task,
link |
00:23:06.240
are those still considered valid?
link |
00:23:08.240
And indeed all three of them said,
link |
00:23:09.860
if ever there was a literature in psychology
link |
00:23:12.160
that is absolutely tamped down and has a firm basis
link |
00:23:17.140
in both data and real world principles
link |
00:23:20.120
and real world examples,
link |
00:23:21.960
it's this notion of attachment styles.
link |
00:23:25.500
So what is the strange situation task?
link |
00:23:27.540
The strange situation task involves a parent,
link |
00:23:30.160
typically a mother in the studies that were done,
link |
00:23:32.740
but a parent or other caregiver bringing their child,
link |
00:23:36.880
their actual child into a laboratory.
link |
00:23:39.520
And there's a room with a stranger
link |
00:23:43.040
and the mother enters the room with the child
link |
00:23:45.840
and there's some toys in the room
link |
00:23:48.040
and typically the mother and the stranger will talk.
link |
00:23:51.400
Obviously the stranger is part of the experiment.
link |
00:23:53.240
It's not just some random person off the street
link |
00:23:55.640
and the child is allowed to move about the room.
link |
00:23:58.140
They can observe the mother interacting
link |
00:24:00.140
with the other person or not.
link |
00:24:01.720
They can play with toys or not,
link |
00:24:03.480
but then at some point the mother leaves
link |
00:24:06.760
and then at some point later,
link |
00:24:08.160
designated by the experimenter, the mother comes back.
link |
00:24:11.520
And what is measured in these studies
link |
00:24:14.400
is both how the child, the toddler,
link |
00:24:17.800
reacts to the mother leaving
link |
00:24:20.960
and how the child reacts to the mother returning
link |
00:24:24.000
at the end of the experiment.
link |
00:24:25.960
And oftentimes this will have two or three different phases
link |
00:24:29.680
where the mother will bring the child in,
link |
00:24:31.680
then leave, then come back in and leave.
link |
00:24:35.440
There are also studies in which the behavior
link |
00:24:38.520
of the child with the stranger is also examined.
link |
00:24:42.080
So there are a lot of variations of this,
link |
00:24:43.540
but the basic findings are that toddlers, children,
link |
00:24:49.580
fall into four different categories of attachment style
link |
00:24:54.760
and that these attachment styles can predict many features
link |
00:24:58.280
of adolescent, teen, young adult,
link |
00:25:01.120
and even adult attachment styles,
link |
00:25:03.480
not in strange situations of the sort that I just described,
link |
00:25:06.640
but in romantic attachments.
link |
00:25:10.280
I should mention also that attachment style is plastic,
link |
00:25:14.560
meaning it can change across the lifespan.
link |
00:25:17.240
So as I described the results,
link |
00:25:18.660
I described the different attachment styles
link |
00:25:20.680
that are out there.
link |
00:25:22.520
And if any of those resonate with you
link |
00:25:25.880
or bring to mind certain people in your life,
link |
00:25:28.880
please do not assume that those attachment styles
link |
00:25:31.600
are rigid and fixed for the entire lifespan.
link |
00:25:34.240
There are also terrific data that indicate
link |
00:25:36.920
that through specific processes,
link |
00:25:39.520
both psychological and some biological adjustments,
link |
00:25:43.500
that people can change their attachment style
link |
00:25:46.040
and that indeed people who have different attachment styles
link |
00:25:48.580
can change the attachment styles of others.
link |
00:25:50.880
But just to make very clear what the results
link |
00:25:52.840
of the study were,
link |
00:25:53.720
I want to review what the four different attachment styles
link |
00:25:56.400
are and typically people fall into one group or another,
link |
00:25:59.640
but not several.
link |
00:26:00.960
So the four patterns of attachment
link |
00:26:02.820
that were revealed by these studies,
link |
00:26:05.120
again, were revealed by examining the behavior of the child
link |
00:26:08.780
in response to the mother leaving and the mother returning
link |
00:26:12.160
and the child's response to the stranger
link |
00:26:15.320
that is in the room with them.
link |
00:26:16.680
The first style is the so-called secure attachment style.
link |
00:26:21.080
In the nomenclature of this kind of study,
link |
00:26:23.560
these are the so-called B babies as in the letter B,
link |
00:26:26.200
bulldog, B, not for bulldogs,
link |
00:26:28.440
but just to designate this category.
link |
00:26:30.960
The secure attachment style is one in which the child
link |
00:26:35.800
will engage with the stranger, with the experimenter,
link |
00:26:39.040
while the parent is present in the room,
link |
00:26:42.280
but that when the parent, typically it's a mother,
link |
00:26:44.480
but when the parent or other caregiver leaves,
link |
00:26:47.840
the child does get visibly upset.
link |
00:26:49.960
They might whine, they might cry,
link |
00:26:51.440
they might even tantrum a bit.
link |
00:26:53.440
However, when the caregiver,
link |
00:26:55.840
meaning the mother or father or other caregiver returns,
link |
00:26:59.320
the child visibly expresses happiness
link |
00:27:02.240
that the caregiver has returned, okay?
link |
00:27:04.000
So that's the hallmark of the secure attachment style.
link |
00:27:07.680
And again, this is all pre-verbal.
link |
00:27:09.580
This is happening long before the child can express
link |
00:27:11.680
how they feel with words.
link |
00:27:13.800
And the interpretation of this is that the secure child
link |
00:27:16.720
feels confident that the caregiver is available
link |
00:27:19.640
and will be responsive to their needs
link |
00:27:22.320
and their communications,
link |
00:27:24.160
so that when the child whines or is distressed,
link |
00:27:28.120
the parent doesn't come right back into the room,
link |
00:27:29.860
but at some point they do,
link |
00:27:31.160
and they seem to have a sense of trust
link |
00:27:33.320
that if the parent or caregiver leaves,
link |
00:27:35.520
that the parent will come back
link |
00:27:37.240
and that they're happy that they do.
link |
00:27:39.780
These children are also very good
link |
00:27:42.020
at exploring novel environments after the parent is gone
link |
00:27:45.300
and while the parent is there.
link |
00:27:46.880
And almost always when the parent is there,
link |
00:27:49.540
they will explore more broadly, literally in space,
link |
00:27:52.080
they'll venture out further than they will
link |
00:27:54.600
when the parent is gone.
link |
00:27:56.800
They also tend to engage with the caregiver in a way
link |
00:27:59.520
that's not immediately and completely trusting,
link |
00:28:01.840
but that over time seems to evolve
link |
00:28:04.280
from one in which they're kind of suspicious of this person
link |
00:28:06.340
to one in which they're at least somewhat trusting, okay?
link |
00:28:09.880
So those are the general contours
link |
00:28:11.940
of the secure attachment style.
link |
00:28:13.680
And fortunately, nowadays,
link |
00:28:14.960
there are physiological studies measuring things
link |
00:28:17.160
like heart rate and breathing and other measures
link |
00:28:19.960
that correlate with the subjective assessment
link |
00:28:22.840
of what these children are feeling.
link |
00:28:25.040
Okay, so first category is secure attached.
link |
00:28:27.140
The second category is a so-called anxious avoidant
link |
00:28:30.760
or insecurely attached, which are the category A babies.
link |
00:28:35.560
The children with anxious avoidant
link |
00:28:37.620
insecure attachment patterns generally tend to avoid
link |
00:28:41.160
or ignore the caregiver, all right?
link |
00:28:43.560
Meaning the parent and show very little emotion
link |
00:28:47.640
when the parent leaves or returns.
link |
00:28:51.240
So this is the reason they call them avoidant
link |
00:28:53.960
or anxious avoidant and kind of insecure.
link |
00:28:56.380
There isn't this happiness or joy that the parent is back.
link |
00:28:59.360
They don't seem to express that.
link |
00:29:01.280
They do not exhibit distress on separation,
link |
00:29:04.540
and they generally tend to have some tendency
link |
00:29:08.480
to approach the caregiver when they return,
link |
00:29:11.020
but there doesn't seem to be a general expression of joy.
link |
00:29:14.280
And again, physiological measures support that as well.
link |
00:29:16.920
Things like changes in heart rate tend to be less dramatic
link |
00:29:20.680
in the anxious avoidant insecure attachment style
link |
00:29:24.200
than in the secure attachment style.
link |
00:29:25.960
Okay, so that's the second one.
link |
00:29:28.720
The third category is the so-called anxious ambivalent
link |
00:29:32.400
slash resistant insecure category.
link |
00:29:35.400
Okay, I didn't name these categories,
link |
00:29:36.720
so you have to blame others in this one instance.
link |
00:29:39.800
For everything else, blame me.
link |
00:29:40.760
But in this instance, you have to blame the psychologist
link |
00:29:43.720
that named this category.
link |
00:29:44.880
The anxious ambivalent slash resistant insecure category,
link |
00:29:48.680
also called the C babies,
link |
00:29:51.000
for the letter C just as a categorization.
link |
00:29:54.020
The anxious ambivalent resistant insecure toddlers really
link |
00:29:58.760
show distress even before separation from their mother
link |
00:30:01.920
or other caregiver, and they tend to be very clingy
link |
00:30:04.840
and difficult to comfort when the caregiver returns.
link |
00:30:08.880
Okay, so they're distressed
link |
00:30:10.240
even before the mother leaves the room,
link |
00:30:12.160
and they tend to be very clingy
link |
00:30:14.040
and really hard to calm down when the mother returns.
link |
00:30:18.220
They tend to show either what seems to be resentment
link |
00:30:21.560
in response to the parent's absence,
link |
00:30:23.440
we don't really know what they're feeling,
link |
00:30:24.920
or some sort of helpless passivity.
link |
00:30:26.940
And there's actually subcategorizations
link |
00:30:28.520
that the psychologists have come up with
link |
00:30:29.840
with C1 subtypes and C2 subtypes.
link |
00:30:31.920
We don't have to get bogged down in that.
link |
00:30:33.560
But just know that there isn't one absolute measure
link |
00:30:36.960
that says, oh, well, this person is anxious ambivalent,
link |
00:30:40.360
resistant, insecure.
link |
00:30:41.620
They could be somewhat passive, or they could be somewhat
link |
00:30:46.320
angry at the caregiver.
link |
00:30:47.720
But the basic idea is that before and after the separation,
link |
00:30:52.760
they are clingy and difficult to comfort.
link |
00:30:55.240
They just can't seem to calm themselves down
link |
00:30:56.920
and physiological measures of heart rate
link |
00:30:58.920
and hormone measurements such as cortisol
link |
00:31:01.000
also support that statement.
link |
00:31:02.800
And the third category of attachment style
link |
00:31:05.520
is the so-called disorganized or disoriented or D
link |
00:31:09.120
for the letter D babies.
link |
00:31:11.120
This is a categorization that was added later
link |
00:31:13.760
to this strange situation task that is a real hallmark
link |
00:31:16.640
of developmental psychology studies.
link |
00:31:19.400
It was developed by Mary Ainsworth graduate student,
link |
00:31:23.320
Mary Main, who I actually had the great fortune
link |
00:31:25.600
of taking a course from and learning from
link |
00:31:27.240
when I was a graduate student at Berkeley many years ago.
link |
00:31:30.700
And this fourth categorization was controversial
link |
00:31:32.820
for a while, but now is generally accepted.
link |
00:31:35.760
The key feature of the disorganized disoriented category
link |
00:31:40.160
is that the toddlers tend to be tense
link |
00:31:43.440
and they tend to encompass a lot of
link |
00:31:45.880
kind of odd physical postures.
link |
00:31:47.560
They tend to hunch their shoulders.
link |
00:31:49.920
They'll put their hands behind their neck.
link |
00:31:51.680
They'll cock their head to the side.
link |
00:31:54.200
For those of you listening,
link |
00:31:55.120
I'm doing this on the video version.
link |
00:31:56.720
It's not where you don't have to go see that.
link |
00:31:58.980
But for those of you that are watching this on video,
link |
00:32:01.440
they tend to kind of constrain their body size a bit
link |
00:32:04.320
and go into odd postures that they normally
link |
00:32:06.500
wouldn't do anywhere else.
link |
00:32:10.340
So this is why it's called the disorganized
link |
00:32:12.480
or disoriented category.
link |
00:32:15.020
It seems like these children just don't really know
link |
00:32:17.140
how to react to a separation.
link |
00:32:19.080
And they just start to manifest behaviors
link |
00:32:21.740
and emotional tones that aren't observed
link |
00:32:24.080
in other situations.
link |
00:32:25.680
Okay, so we've got our four categories.
link |
00:32:27.800
I'll try and use the shortest possible names
link |
00:32:29.500
for each category.
link |
00:32:30.340
We've got category one, which is securely attached.
link |
00:32:32.640
We've got category two, which is insecurely attached,
link |
00:32:35.720
also sometimes called anxious avoidant.
link |
00:32:38.120
Then we've got category three,
link |
00:32:39.520
which is the resistant insecure category,
link |
00:32:42.720
which is anxious ambivalent.
link |
00:32:44.040
And then there's this fourth category,
link |
00:32:45.840
the disorganized disoriented category
link |
00:32:48.420
where the so-called D babies.
link |
00:32:50.920
Now, what's interesting about this from the perspective
link |
00:32:54.680
of desire, love and attachment is that the categorizations
link |
00:32:59.840
of children into one of these four different categories
link |
00:33:03.480
as toddlers is strongly predictive of their attachment style
link |
00:33:08.280
in romantic partnerships later in life,
link |
00:33:11.280
which is to me both amazing and surprising
link |
00:33:14.880
and not surprising all at the same time.
link |
00:33:17.080
Amazing because it means that, first of all,
link |
00:33:20.880
we are relatively hardwired for attachment.
link |
00:33:23.680
I think that that's incredible and beautiful
link |
00:33:26.640
that we have designated neurons, nerve cells
link |
00:33:29.680
and hormonal systems that are there to ensure
link |
00:33:32.600
that we have some sort of response
link |
00:33:34.840
to a caregiver being there or not being there
link |
00:33:38.000
or returning or leaving,
link |
00:33:40.160
but also that the same neural circuitries,
link |
00:33:42.800
the same hormonal responses are at least
link |
00:33:45.200
in some way repurposed for entirely different types
link |
00:33:49.360
of attachments later in life.
link |
00:33:51.260
So when we hear the psychologists talk
link |
00:33:54.200
about how we formed a template early in life
link |
00:33:57.680
based on experiences that were even pre-verbal
link |
00:34:00.080
before we had language and those templates
link |
00:34:03.040
are superimposed on our relationships,
link |
00:34:05.300
or we should say our later relationships
link |
00:34:07.380
are superimposed on those templates,
link |
00:34:09.080
there really is a basis for that.
link |
00:34:10.660
We now have neuroimaging studies to support,
link |
00:34:13.380
for instance, the work of Alan Shore from UCLA,
link |
00:34:16.760
showing that when a mother and child interact,
link |
00:34:20.240
either through very soothing interactions
link |
00:34:23.040
like bottle feeding or breastfeeding
link |
00:34:25.160
or singing to one's baby or putting them to sleep,
link |
00:34:28.240
that the brain of the child and the brain of the mother
link |
00:34:31.560
are entering a coordinated state of relaxation.
link |
00:34:34.720
And it's not one direction mother to child,
link |
00:34:36.920
the child is also calming the mother.
link |
00:34:40.400
Typically these studies were done with mothers,
link |
00:34:42.080
again, sometimes with fathers, but typically with mothers.
link |
00:34:45.120
And in addition to that,
link |
00:34:46.560
when the mother or other caregiver acts very excited
link |
00:34:50.400
and raises their voice or puts a lilt in their voice
link |
00:34:53.360
or widens their eyes, that the child will do the same.
link |
00:34:56.480
And again, there's a bidirectional interaction
link |
00:34:59.080
in that case of excitement.
link |
00:35:01.120
And there's the release of neurochemicals
link |
00:35:03.200
like dopamine into the bloodstream,
link |
00:35:04.760
whereas in the relaxation scenario
link |
00:35:06.600
and the soothing scenario,
link |
00:35:08.100
we know the release of things like serotonin and oxytocin.
link |
00:35:11.820
So the neural systems for attachment
link |
00:35:15.500
and the neural systems for what we call autonomic arousal
link |
00:35:18.880
for being alert and calm don't act in a vacuum.
link |
00:35:23.680
They are tethered to other people in our environment.
link |
00:35:26.380
And of course we know this, right?
link |
00:35:27.880
We sometimes hear the statement,
link |
00:35:29.060
no one can make you feel anything.
link |
00:35:30.720
I've always had a little bit of a problem
link |
00:35:31.960
with that statement.
link |
00:35:33.980
I don't think I'm contradicting anyone in particular,
link |
00:35:36.860
but you hear that a lot.
link |
00:35:37.700
No one can make you feel anything.
link |
00:35:39.400
Indeed they can, right?
link |
00:35:40.600
A physical injury can make you feel something.
link |
00:35:43.240
If somebody says something that you very much like,
link |
00:35:45.440
it can make you feel something.
link |
00:35:46.680
And if somebody says something that you very much dislike,
link |
00:35:49.280
it will make you feel something.
link |
00:35:50.560
So the idea that no one can make us feel anything
link |
00:35:52.920
isn't actually true.
link |
00:35:54.080
Our nervous system is tethered to the nervous systems
link |
00:35:57.320
of others, and that is true
link |
00:35:59.120
from the very earliest stages of our lives.
link |
00:36:01.520
And in this case, we're talking about how our templates
link |
00:36:04.280
for attachment in romantic relationships,
link |
00:36:06.920
how we find them, how we maintain them,
link |
00:36:09.240
and indeed how we break them and reform them
link |
00:36:11.980
is based on a template that was established
link |
00:36:14.280
through an entirely different set of priorities,
link |
00:36:16.560
which was how we feel safe and secure in novel environments,
link |
00:36:20.340
depending on whether or not our primary caregiver
link |
00:36:22.240
is there or not.
link |
00:36:23.220
Neuroimaging supports that.
link |
00:36:24.900
When I say neuroimaging, I mean brain scans support that,
link |
00:36:27.440
measures of hormones in the body and brain support that,
link |
00:36:30.100
measures of neurochemicals support that.
link |
00:36:32.020
There's simply no way around this truth
link |
00:36:34.240
that we have a set of roadmaps in our mind
link |
00:36:37.080
that are reused for entirely different purposes
link |
00:36:40.280
later in life.
link |
00:36:41.160
That is vitally important to understand
link |
00:36:43.720
because if one is successful in forming
link |
00:36:47.720
romantic attachments, maintaining them, et cetera, or not,
link |
00:36:52.720
does in fact reflect the earlier templates
link |
00:36:55.840
that you've created.
link |
00:36:57.100
But as I've mentioned before, the good news is
link |
00:36:59.500
that these templates can shift over time.
link |
00:37:01.620
And one of the more powerful ways
link |
00:37:03.160
to shift those templates over time
link |
00:37:05.160
is purely by the knowledge that they exist
link |
00:37:07.960
and the understanding that those templates are malleable.
link |
00:37:11.880
They can change through the process of neuroplasticity.
link |
00:37:15.600
Again, neuroplasticity is just a rewiring
link |
00:37:17.560
of nerve connections that is very much present in childhood,
link |
00:37:21.720
but also very much present in adulthood.
link |
00:37:23.920
So if you're somebody who you think falls
link |
00:37:26.440
into category one, two, three, or four,
link |
00:37:28.680
or you know somebody or involved with somebody
link |
00:37:30.760
who falls into category one, two, three, and four,
link |
00:37:34.680
the mere knowledge of that can be very useful.
link |
00:37:37.100
But you might ask, well, what do I do with that knowledge?
link |
00:37:39.120
Well, fortunately, both psychologists and biologists
link |
00:37:41.360
have started to leverage that knowledge
link |
00:37:43.440
toward establishing better, more secure bonds
link |
00:37:46.520
in adult romantic relationships.
link |
00:37:48.280
And there's a book that has really tapped into this.
link |
00:37:51.240
I think it's the first book
link |
00:37:52.160
that has really addressed this head on.
link |
00:37:53.880
And that book comes from two Columbia professors.
link |
00:37:58.720
And the title of the book is Attached,
link |
00:38:02.620
The New Science of Adult Attachment
link |
00:38:04.360
and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love.
link |
00:38:07.060
The authors of this book are Amir Levine and Rachel Heller.
link |
00:38:11.160
Again, both of them are skilled academics and researchers
link |
00:38:15.000
who have really taken the literature that I described
link |
00:38:17.660
on the strange situation task
link |
00:38:19.040
and mapped it to adult attachment styles.
link |
00:38:21.080
And also they've mapped out ways
link |
00:38:23.880
that they've observed in their clinical practice
link |
00:38:26.240
and that is laboratory supported for, for instance,
link |
00:38:30.480
people that have an anxious ambivalent
link |
00:38:32.540
or what we would call an insecure attachment style,
link |
00:38:34.800
or for people that fall into the disorganized
link |
00:38:38.200
or disoriented attachment style,
link |
00:38:39.780
how they can modify that attachment style
link |
00:38:42.160
in or out of relationships
link |
00:38:44.520
in order to establish what I think everybody wants,
link |
00:38:47.340
which is secure attachment.
link |
00:38:48.860
Why does everybody want that?
link |
00:38:50.100
Well, secure attachment allows people
link |
00:38:52.000
to be both in relationship
link |
00:38:54.040
or if they choose to be on their own
link |
00:38:56.160
or to be in relationship,
link |
00:38:57.600
but physically separated from somebody else
link |
00:38:59.460
or even emotionally separated from somebody else
link |
00:39:01.560
and maintain what we call a stable autonomic equilibrium.
link |
00:39:05.520
The ability to remain calm, clear-headed,
link |
00:39:08.280
you might not like what's happening,
link |
00:39:09.960
but you're able to navigate that with some sense of clarity
link |
00:39:12.660
and not excessive discomfort.
link |
00:39:14.740
So is there a goal in all of this stuff
link |
00:39:17.240
about love, desire, and attachment?
link |
00:39:19.280
Indeed, there is.
link |
00:39:20.580
The secure attachment style is the one
link |
00:39:23.720
that leads to the most stable
link |
00:39:26.080
and predictable long-term relationships.
link |
00:39:28.100
Put differently, babies, toddlers, adolescents,
link |
00:39:31.960
teens, and young adults that have a secure attachment style
link |
00:39:35.320
are more likely to find and form long-term relationships
link |
00:39:38.480
than are people in the other categories.
link |
00:39:40.760
But people in other categories can learn
link |
00:39:43.760
and eventually migrate into the secure attachment style.
link |
00:39:47.640
And I think that book attached,
link |
00:39:49.920
I have no affiliation to the authors or the book itself,
link |
00:39:52.540
I should just mention that,
link |
00:39:53.920
attached the new science of adult attachment
link |
00:39:55.720
and how it can help you find and keep love.
link |
00:39:57.500
Really, it sounds very pop psychology-esque,
link |
00:40:00.740
but it is really grounded
link |
00:40:02.000
in the research psychology literature,
link |
00:40:03.840
and there's also some interesting biology there.
link |
00:40:06.920
Another point to make about attachment styles
link |
00:40:09.760
is that it is possible,
link |
00:40:12.320
and some of you may be familiar with circumstances,
link |
00:40:14.900
whereby people who are securely attached,
link |
00:40:18.080
either because they grew up in an environment
link |
00:40:19.880
where secure attachment was cultivated,
link |
00:40:22.060
or because they developed that on their own,
link |
00:40:24.560
can also migrate out of the securely attached category
link |
00:40:28.980
into insecurely attached
link |
00:40:30.560
or into avoidant types of attachment styles
link |
00:40:34.360
as teens or as young adults
link |
00:40:36.280
or as adults of at any age or any stage of life,
link |
00:40:40.720
by virtue of being with somebody who has a different,
link |
00:40:43.760
perhaps less adaptive attachment style, right?
link |
00:40:47.280
What this means is that if you have
link |
00:40:49.620
or you develop a secure attachment style,
link |
00:40:52.760
it's vitally important to protect that attachment style
link |
00:40:55.600
because it is possible to become anxiously attached
link |
00:40:58.160
even if you grew up in a stable attachment framework.
link |
00:41:01.180
And again, this can happen at any stage.
link |
00:41:03.640
So if you're interested in attachment styles
link |
00:41:05.480
and how they influence adult romantic attachments,
link |
00:41:08.680
and certainly if you are a parent,
link |
00:41:11.380
I would encourage you to check out the book Attached.
link |
00:41:14.720
Again, it's quite good,
link |
00:41:16.000
and I think that it offers a number of actionable tools
link |
00:41:18.760
to both form and hold on to secure attachment styles.
link |
00:41:22.480
So I mentioned that the neural circuits
link |
00:41:24.000
for child-parent or child-caregiver attachment
link |
00:41:28.240
are repurposed for romantic attachment later in life.
link |
00:41:32.420
But what are these neural circuits?
link |
00:41:34.800
What do they do?
link |
00:41:35.720
I mean, it's so attractive, if you will,
link |
00:41:39.100
to think about a brain area that controls love
link |
00:41:41.640
or a brain area that controls desire
link |
00:41:43.760
or a brain area that controls attachment,
link |
00:41:45.360
but it simply doesn't work that way.
link |
00:41:47.200
As I've talked about before on this podcast,
link |
00:41:49.480
and I will say again and again,
link |
00:41:50.800
because it will persist to be true long after I'm gone,
link |
00:41:53.860
is that no one brain area can give rise
link |
00:41:56.680
to anything as complex as desire, love, or attachment.
link |
00:42:01.040
Instead, there are multiple brain areas
link |
00:42:03.300
that through their coordinated action
link |
00:42:05.520
create a sort of a song that we call desire
link |
00:42:08.280
or a song that we call love
link |
00:42:09.920
or a song that we call attachment, not a literal song,
link |
00:42:12.920
although there are songs about desire,
link |
00:42:14.260
love, and attachment, of course, many songs,
link |
00:42:16.360
some good, some not so good,
link |
00:42:19.120
but rather different brain areas
link |
00:42:21.400
being active in different sequences
link |
00:42:23.880
and with different intensities can make us feel
link |
00:42:26.240
as if we are in the mode that we call desire
link |
00:42:29.480
or in the mode of love or in the mode of attachment.
link |
00:42:32.560
But beneath all of that is this element
link |
00:42:36.360
of autonomic arousal.
link |
00:42:37.880
And I want to focus on autonomic arousal
link |
00:42:40.400
just for a bit longer,
link |
00:42:41.460
because it really is one of the three core elements
link |
00:42:45.240
by which we form and maintain loving attachments
link |
00:42:48.640
and by which we break loving attachments.
link |
00:42:52.320
The autonomic nervous system, as the name suggests,
link |
00:42:55.160
is automatic.
link |
00:42:57.060
In fact, that's what autonomic means.
link |
00:42:59.040
Now, it's actually the case
link |
00:43:01.040
that we can control our autonomic nervous system
link |
00:43:02.880
to some degree or another,
link |
00:43:04.140
but the autonomic nervous system
link |
00:43:05.560
controls things like digestion, our breathing,
link |
00:43:09.360
whether or not we're conscious of that breathing or not.
link |
00:43:12.080
It controls things like how alert we are
link |
00:43:14.200
or how sleepy we are.
link |
00:43:15.920
And the autonomic nervous system,
link |
00:43:18.080
as I just briefly described earlier,
link |
00:43:19.920
is really something that we come into the world with.
link |
00:43:22.680
It's hardwired.
link |
00:43:23.640
All the elements are there,
link |
00:43:25.440
but through interactions with our parent,
link |
00:43:28.440
either soothing interactions or fun, playful interactions,
link |
00:43:32.760
or dare I say, scary interactions,
link |
00:43:35.480
our autonomic nervous system gets tuned up,
link |
00:43:38.720
meaning we each develop a tendency
link |
00:43:41.560
to either be more alert and anxious or more calm
link |
00:43:44.920
or kind of a balance of alert and calm.
link |
00:43:47.040
Now, of course, this changes across each day,
link |
00:43:49.040
and depending how tired we are,
link |
00:43:50.180
late in the day, if we've been awake for a while,
link |
00:43:51.640
we tend to get sleepy.
link |
00:43:52.740
Early in the day, if we're very rested,
link |
00:43:54.160
we tend to wake up and feel very alert.
link |
00:43:56.280
So the way to think about the autonomic nervous system
link |
00:43:58.040
is it's kind of a seesaw.
link |
00:43:59.480
We go back and forth between being very alert.
link |
00:44:02.120
We can be alert and calm, or we can be very, very alert.
link |
00:44:04.760
We can be in a state of panic.
link |
00:44:06.220
We can be fast asleep, so we can be extremely calm,
link |
00:44:09.200
or we can just be kind of sleepy, semi-calm,
link |
00:44:13.040
but still also alert.
link |
00:44:14.880
So think about it like a seesaw.
link |
00:44:17.000
And that seesaw has a hinge,
link |
00:44:19.940
and that hinge defines how tight or loose that seesaw is,
link |
00:44:23.240
how readily it can tilt back and forth.
link |
00:44:26.080
Our autonomic tone is how tight that hinge is.
link |
00:44:30.120
And there are biological mechanisms to explain this,
link |
00:44:32.140
but here, I just want to stay with the analogy
link |
00:44:33.760
of the seesaw for now.
link |
00:44:36.680
The interactions between child and caregiver early in life
link |
00:44:41.860
take the child and the caregiver
link |
00:44:44.240
from one end of the seesaw to the other,
link |
00:44:47.000
from being very alert in a state of play, for instance,
link |
00:44:50.120
to being nursed and being very soothed until we go to sleep.
link |
00:44:53.980
And of course, we each have a seesaw.
link |
00:44:55.940
The parent and the child has a seesaw,
link |
00:44:57.320
and they're interacting.
link |
00:44:58.160
What do I mean by that?
link |
00:44:59.360
Well, there are beautiful studies and beautiful,
link |
00:45:02.940
not in the sense that they focused on a pleasant topic,
link |
00:45:05.240
but beautiful because they were done so beautifully well,
link |
00:45:08.400
that looked at, for instance,
link |
00:45:09.980
the response of mothers and their physiologies
link |
00:45:13.740
and the response of children and their physiologies
link |
00:45:16.840
during the bombing of cities during World War II,
link |
00:45:19.520
so an unpleasant situation.
link |
00:45:21.500
But what was revealed during the course of these studies
link |
00:45:25.100
was that if the mothers were very stressed
link |
00:45:28.720
during an onslaught of bombing of the city,
link |
00:45:31.540
the children's physiologies tended to be stressed also
link |
00:45:34.880
and persisted in being stressed
link |
00:45:37.440
long after that stressful episode was done.
link |
00:45:41.560
They actually followed that these children
link |
00:45:43.640
well out for many decades afterwards.
link |
00:45:47.360
Conversely, if the parent, and in this case, again,
link |
00:45:50.800
it was mothers that were explored in these studies,
link |
00:45:53.700
had turned this whole business
link |
00:45:55.460
of going into the bomb shelters
link |
00:45:57.160
into somewhat of a game, taking it seriously,
link |
00:46:00.040
but essentially telling the children,
link |
00:46:01.680
okay, it's time to go,
link |
00:46:02.500
but not expressing much stress or distress.
link |
00:46:05.800
The children also didn't develop
link |
00:46:07.080
much stress or distress or trauma.
link |
00:46:09.360
Now, there were exceptions to this, of course,
link |
00:46:10.940
but in general, that was the rule
link |
00:46:12.480
that the autonomic nervous systems of children
link |
00:46:14.860
tend to mimic the autonomic nervous systems
link |
00:46:16.880
of the primary caregiver.
link |
00:46:18.760
And the mechanisms by which this occurs has been explored.
link |
00:46:22.580
And again, I just referred to the beautiful work
link |
00:46:24.380
of Alan Shore at University of California, Los Angeles.
link |
00:46:28.120
And then again, his name is Shore, spelled S-C-H-O-R-E.
link |
00:46:32.240
I'm looking down briefly at the floor here
link |
00:46:33.880
because I'll just reach for the book.
link |
00:46:36.560
He has a wonderful book called Right Brain Psychotherapy.
link |
00:46:39.700
It's a little bit technical,
link |
00:46:40.720
but if you're interested in some of the studies,
link |
00:46:43.180
this book, Right Brain Psychotherapy,
link |
00:46:44.940
details how everything from nursing of children
link |
00:46:48.360
to playtime behavior,
link |
00:46:50.300
to strange situation type task behavior
link |
00:46:52.820
that we talked about before,
link |
00:46:53.660
which of course occurs when children get dropped off
link |
00:46:56.100
at daycare or nursery school or with babysitters, et cetera.
link |
00:46:59.560
And indeed, all types of caregiver-child interactions
link |
00:47:04.040
tune up that autonomic nervous system
link |
00:47:06.860
so that the child ends up with an autonomic nervous system
link |
00:47:10.180
that either tends to lean more towards alert and anxious
link |
00:47:14.680
or can be very alert but calm
link |
00:47:16.540
or can be very calm and hard to budge.
link |
00:47:18.420
Again, it's the tightness of that hinge
link |
00:47:20.780
that really underlies these attachment styles
link |
00:47:23.740
that we were talking about earlier.
link |
00:47:25.220
And not on this episode of the Huberman Lab Podcast,
link |
00:47:27.980
but on many other previous episodes,
link |
00:47:29.580
such as the Master Stress episode
link |
00:47:31.700
or some of the Optimize Health episodes.
link |
00:47:34.620
You can find these if you want at hubermanlab.com.
link |
00:47:36.940
A lot of the tools and techniques that are recommended there
link |
00:47:40.180
have to do with readjusting the autonomic nervous system
link |
00:47:43.860
in deliberate ways as an adult.
link |
00:47:45.540
Again, I won't go into the specific tools,
link |
00:47:48.560
but for instance, the physiological sigh,
link |
00:47:52.620
this tool that I've talked about extensively
link |
00:47:55.140
of two inhales through the nose as deeply as you can
link |
00:47:58.220
on the first one,
link |
00:47:59.060
sneaking in a little bit more air on the second one,
link |
00:48:00.860
and then a long exhale through the mouth
link |
00:48:02.860
is a way of adjusting that autonomic seesaw.
link |
00:48:05.660
It tends to make us more calm.
link |
00:48:07.300
It activates what we call the parasympathetic arm
link |
00:48:10.420
of the autonomic nervous system,
link |
00:48:11.840
which is just fancy nerd speak
link |
00:48:13.220
for it's a quick way to calm yourself down, right?
link |
00:48:16.260
Things like ice baths or cold showers or cold immersion
link |
00:48:20.640
or hyperventilate hyperventilation by contrast
link |
00:48:24.580
are ways in which we can deliberately increase
link |
00:48:27.840
the level of our so-called sympathetic arm
link |
00:48:30.540
of our autonomic nervous system to make ourselves more alert.
link |
00:48:32.820
Why would you want to do that?
link |
00:48:33.860
Well, you can do that to be more alert,
link |
00:48:35.800
to be more awake if you like,
link |
00:48:37.260
or as a form of self-induced stress inoculation
link |
00:48:40.460
to be able to tolerate higher levels of adrenaline
link |
00:48:43.740
by making it a practice that you self-direct.
link |
00:48:47.360
The reason those tools are out there is because many of us,
link |
00:48:51.460
for whatever reason, we don't have to blame anyone,
link |
00:48:54.340
but because of our childhood templates,
link |
00:48:56.840
because of things that happened and didn't happen
link |
00:48:58.740
in terms of our interactions with caregivers,
link |
00:49:00.740
have autonomic nervous systems that are tilted
link |
00:49:02.740
to one side or the other more than we would like,
link |
00:49:05.380
or in which the hinge that I'm talking about
link |
00:49:09.140
in this analogy is too loose or that is too tight,
link |
00:49:13.020
and we're sort of stuck in a mode of anxiousness
link |
00:49:14.980
or stuck in a mode of lack of energy.
link |
00:49:17.140
That's what those tools are really about.
link |
00:49:19.520
But at a deeper level, the autonomic nervous system
link |
00:49:24.620
is really the system that governs how we will react
link |
00:49:27.860
in response to a romantic partner being present or leaving.
link |
00:49:33.380
And I don't necessarily mean leaving the relationship
link |
00:49:35.640
entirely, although it could mean that, right?
link |
00:49:37.740
We know people, I'm sure you know people,
link |
00:49:39.620
that upon the end of a relationship
link |
00:49:42.080
that they wanted very much are absolutely crushed.
link |
00:49:44.940
And actually in researching this episode there,
link |
00:49:47.540
I discovered there's an extensive literature finding
link |
00:49:50.180
that the feelings that one has after a breakup
link |
00:49:53.960
are very much like a clinical depression in many cases.
link |
00:49:57.300
But there are individuals that can look at a breakup
link |
00:49:59.820
as a transient event that they don't interpret
link |
00:50:03.300
as going to mean so much for all aspects of their life
link |
00:50:07.220
or reshaping their view of themselves.
link |
00:50:09.600
Why?
link |
00:50:10.440
Well, we have different levels of autonomic function.
link |
00:50:14.120
And depending on where our seesaw is, if you will,
link |
00:50:17.760
some of us become extremely distraught
link |
00:50:20.060
and can't recalibrate ourselves,
link |
00:50:21.780
can't adjust ourselves down from stress to calm,
link |
00:50:25.340
or can't take ourselves from exhausted to more alert
link |
00:50:28.700
if we need to do that on our own.
link |
00:50:30.420
And so that's why tools for doing that exist.
link |
00:50:32.820
But attachment itself is about where
link |
00:50:37.700
our autonomic nervous system resides.
link |
00:50:39.700
So if I were to offer a set of tools around these topics
link |
00:50:42.780
of desire, love, and attachment,
link |
00:50:44.620
I would say, first of all, you might want to think about
link |
00:50:46.340
whether or not you fall into the secure, insecure
link |
00:50:48.700
or other attachment styles.
link |
00:50:51.340
Second, I think it is vitally important for all of us,
link |
00:50:55.340
but certainly for people that are in relationships
link |
00:50:58.120
or seeking relationships to be able to at least
link |
00:51:01.420
have some recognition of where our autonomic nervous system
link |
00:51:05.420
tends to reside, both in terms of when we are with somebody
link |
00:51:08.900
and when they leave.
link |
00:51:10.380
When we are apart for long periods of time,
link |
00:51:12.300
can we calm ourselves?
link |
00:51:13.280
Can we self-soothe?
link |
00:51:14.860
Or are we very much dependent on the presence of another
link |
00:51:17.940
in order to feel soothed?
link |
00:51:19.460
Now, I absolutely want to emphasize
link |
00:51:21.900
that there is nothing wrong.
link |
00:51:23.340
In fact, there's everything right with feeling great
link |
00:51:26.140
in the presence of somebody else.
link |
00:51:27.540
That is actually a hallmark of strong and quality
link |
00:51:31.420
attachments.
link |
00:51:32.260
These days, we hear the term codependent a lot.
link |
00:51:34.860
This was a, I believe the term was first coined
link |
00:51:37.160
by Pia Mellody, and it actually does occupy
link |
00:51:39.780
an important role in the world of trauma, trauma healing,
link |
00:51:44.520
so-called trauma bonding, topics of another episode.
link |
00:51:47.160
I actually did an episode on fear and trauma,
link |
00:51:48.900
and we will do one all about trauma bonding with an expert
link |
00:51:51.240
at some point in the future.
link |
00:51:52.900
But codependence and codependency,
link |
00:51:56.220
the term can sometimes be misinterpreted
link |
00:51:59.660
as any dependence on another isn't good.
link |
00:52:03.500
Interdependence, healthy interdependence, of course, is good.
link |
00:52:07.060
It is the hallmark of healthy child-parent relations,
link |
00:52:09.700
sibling relations, and romantic relations.
link |
00:52:12.500
But a key element of healthy interdependence is that,
link |
00:52:16.460
yes, our autonomic nervous system is adjusted
link |
00:52:19.180
by the presence of another,
link |
00:52:20.780
but that also that we can adjust
link |
00:52:22.460
our own autonomic nervous system
link |
00:52:24.020
even in the absence of that person.
link |
00:52:26.380
That if the person goes away temporarily or permanently,
link |
00:52:30.140
that we can still regulate our own autonomic nervous system,
link |
00:52:33.600
both from states of stress to states of calm,
link |
00:52:35.900
both from states of exhaustion to states of more alertness.
link |
00:52:40.340
And of course, we all need sleep
link |
00:52:41.620
to go from exhaustion to alertness.
link |
00:52:43.820
But what I'm referring to here is the ability to regulate
link |
00:52:46.860
when distraught or regulate when fatigued
link |
00:52:51.520
or feeling depressed.
link |
00:52:52.820
And that is and is all about the autonomic nervous system.
link |
00:52:56.980
So as we talk about attachment styles
link |
00:52:58.660
and we talk about infant and toddler
link |
00:53:00.860
and adult attachment styles,
link |
00:53:01.920
what we are really talking about
link |
00:53:03.880
is a complex set of neural circuitries.
link |
00:53:05.780
And one of those neural circuitries,
link |
00:53:07.760
which is absolutely crucial,
link |
00:53:09.020
is this autonomic nervous system.
link |
00:53:11.020
So if the autonomic nervous system is one key component
link |
00:53:14.780
of desire, love, and attachment, what are the other two?
link |
00:53:18.840
And what I'm going to tell you next
link |
00:53:20.860
is largely the pioneering work of Helen Fisher,
link |
00:53:24.620
who is really an anthropologist
link |
00:53:26.640
who's become a bit of a neuroscientist
link |
00:53:28.580
and has collaborated with neuroscientists
link |
00:53:30.740
to establish brain areas and neural circuits
link |
00:53:33.460
that are associated with different aspects
link |
00:53:35.180
of attachment, love, and desire.
link |
00:53:36.980
I think the first really high quality study
link |
00:53:39.660
of neural circuits associated with these themes
link |
00:53:42.700
was a paper published in 2005
link |
00:53:45.540
in a very fine anatomical journal,
link |
00:53:47.740
perhaps the best neuroanatomical journal,
link |
00:53:50.420
which is the Journal of Comparative Neurology.
link |
00:53:53.220
The Journal of Comparative Neurology
link |
00:53:54.480
has been around for more than a hundred years
link |
00:53:56.780
and is considered the archival location
link |
00:53:59.940
for placing really high quality anatomy.
link |
00:54:02.740
They have tremendously high standards.
link |
00:54:04.580
And the study that I'm referring to
link |
00:54:06.740
is entitled romantic love and FMRI,
link |
00:54:09.460
meaning functional magnetic resonance imaging study
link |
00:54:12.500
of a neural mechanism for mate choice.
link |
00:54:14.860
And Dr. Fisher is a author on this paper,
link |
00:54:19.100
as is Arthur Aaron and Lucy Brown.
link |
00:54:21.940
So all very fine researchers.
link |
00:54:23.980
And this study, as well as several other studies
link |
00:54:27.540
using magnetic resonance imaging,
link |
00:54:30.500
things like EEG, neuroanatomical tracing, et cetera,
link |
00:54:33.700
have identified a large number of brain areas
link |
00:54:35.660
that are associated with different aspects
link |
00:54:37.100
of desire, love, and attachment.
link |
00:54:38.500
And I'll just throw out a few names of those brain areas
link |
00:54:40.620
and what they control.
link |
00:54:41.580
And then I'll tell you how those anchor
link |
00:54:43.860
to the other two categories of neural circuits
link |
00:54:46.380
essential for desire, love, and attachment.
link |
00:54:48.540
So not surprisingly, the dopamine system in the brain
link |
00:54:53.340
is associated with desire, love, and attachment,
link |
00:54:55.880
and mainly with desire, although to some extent love.
link |
00:54:58.720
Dopamine is a neurochemical sometimes associated
link |
00:55:00.900
with reward, but as some of you have heard me say before,
link |
00:55:05.100
it is mainly a molecule of motivation, craving, and pursuit.
link |
00:55:09.620
And that motivation, craving, and pursuit
link |
00:55:11.940
that relates to dopamine is not unique
link |
00:55:14.100
to attachment or love or sex or mating, et cetera.
link |
00:55:17.020
It is a universal generic currency in the brain
link |
00:55:20.840
for pursuing something.
link |
00:55:22.300
Food when you're hungry, a mate when you want one,
link |
00:55:25.300
two mate when you want two,
link |
00:55:27.940
warmth when you're cold, et cetera, et cetera, okay?
link |
00:55:30.200
So it's not for one specific purpose,
link |
00:55:31.940
but the brain areas associated with dopamine involve,
link |
00:55:35.960
for instance, the ventral tegmental area,
link |
00:55:38.540
the substantia nigra, areas of that sort, the basal ganglia.
link |
00:55:42.860
You don't need to know these names,
link |
00:55:44.020
just understand that these are networks of neurons
link |
00:55:46.540
that tend to put the person, you,
link |
00:55:49.100
into a state of forward action and pursuit
link |
00:55:51.660
and craving and motivation.
link |
00:55:53.980
They are not about being quiescent, relaxed, et cetera.
link |
00:55:57.140
The neural circuits for quiescence and relaxation
link |
00:56:01.740
are most associated with love and attachment,
link |
00:56:04.740
not surprisingly, and they're the neurochemical serotonin
link |
00:56:07.900
and to some extent oxytocin
link |
00:56:09.780
are the predominant neurochemicals involved.
link |
00:56:12.260
And those are released from brain areas
link |
00:56:13.800
such as the raphe nucleus in the back of the brain.
link |
00:56:16.460
You may have heard that the majority of serotonin
link |
00:56:18.780
in your body is made in your gut, and indeed that's true,
link |
00:56:22.060
but I hate to break it to you,
link |
00:56:23.580
the serotonin in your gut is not responsible
link |
00:56:27.060
for your feelings of love and attachment,
link |
00:56:28.740
at least not to a high degree.
link |
00:56:30.120
That's mainly going to be the reflection of neurons
link |
00:56:32.760
in your brain that make serotonin.
link |
00:56:35.100
And there are other areas of the brain
link |
00:56:36.540
that make serotonin as well and oxytocin as well,
link |
00:56:39.960
but they tend to be associated
link |
00:56:41.020
with the kind of warmth and calm
link |
00:56:43.180
and the soothing that we feel
link |
00:56:45.380
in the presence of another.
link |
00:56:46.540
And again, these are not strictly divided circuits.
link |
00:56:49.940
We can have dopamine and serotonin present
link |
00:56:51.900
in our brain and body at the same time
link |
00:56:53.700
to equal or different degrees.
link |
00:56:56.020
And we will return in a little bit to what happens
link |
00:56:58.320
when levels of dopamine are very high
link |
00:57:00.220
and levels of serotonin are low and vice versa and so on,
link |
00:57:03.140
including in states of neurochemically modified states
link |
00:57:08.340
as it were in when we talk about things like MDMA,
link |
00:57:11.620
so-called ecstasy.
link |
00:57:13.420
But in the meantime, I want to just discuss
link |
00:57:16.920
the two neural circuits that use dopamine,
link |
00:57:20.480
that use serotonin and oxytocin,
link |
00:57:22.740
and that collaborate with the autonomic nervous system
link |
00:57:26.100
to drive what we call desire, love, and attachment.
link |
00:57:29.320
And the three circuits are autonomic nervous system,
link |
00:57:33.740
we talked about that one.
link |
00:57:35.280
Then there's the nervous system components
link |
00:57:37.880
or the neural circuits for empathy,
link |
00:57:40.040
for being able to see and respond to
link |
00:57:43.660
and indeed match the emotional tone
link |
00:57:46.700
or the autonomic tone of another.
link |
00:57:49.460
And then there's the third category,
link |
00:57:51.180
and this might surprise some of you,
link |
00:57:52.340
it certainly surprised me,
link |
00:57:53.760
but the data point to the fact
link |
00:57:55.380
that the third neural circuit
link |
00:57:56.860
that's very important for establishing bonds
link |
00:57:59.820
is one associated with positive delusions.
link |
00:58:02.740
So given that the neural circuits for empathy
link |
00:58:04.500
are absolutely crucial for falling in love
link |
00:58:07.420
and maintaining stable attachments,
link |
00:58:10.300
I'd like to talk about those neural circuits
link |
00:58:11.740
and what they are.
link |
00:58:13.260
Now, often when we hear empathy,
link |
00:58:15.140
we think, oh, empathy is really about listening to
link |
00:58:18.500
and really understanding what somebody else is feeling,
link |
00:58:21.580
maybe even feeling what they're feeling.
link |
00:58:23.940
And indeed that's the case,
link |
00:58:25.460
but what do we mean by that, right?
link |
00:58:27.540
What is it to feel what another feels?
link |
00:58:29.820
Well, what it means is that their seesaw
link |
00:58:33.140
is driving your seesaw or your seesaw
link |
00:58:37.600
is somehow driving their seesaw,
link |
00:58:39.660
that there's a match in terms of the tilt of those seesaws.
link |
00:58:42.620
Now, it doesn't have to be an exact match, right?
link |
00:58:44.620
If someone that you really care about is very, very stressed,
link |
00:58:48.620
you could also become very stressed.
link |
00:58:50.300
That's a form of empathic matching,
link |
00:58:53.020
and there are indeed neural circuits for that.
link |
00:58:54.700
I'll describe what those neural circuits are in a moment,
link |
00:58:57.180
but sometimes the best role for us to take
link |
00:58:59.660
is actually one in which we are calm
link |
00:59:02.540
when the person that we care about
link |
00:59:03.820
or that we are romantically involved with
link |
00:59:05.720
is very, very anxious.
link |
00:59:07.060
And in a few minutes,
link |
00:59:08.380
I'll talk about how matching of emotional tone
link |
00:59:11.140
can be good or bad for the stability of a relationship.
link |
00:59:16.160
And complementarity of autonomic matching
link |
00:59:19.880
can be good or bad.
link |
00:59:21.340
In other words,
link |
00:59:22.380
sometimes it's beneficial for a relationship
link |
00:59:25.300
to go into the same state as the other.
link |
00:59:27.900
And sometimes it's more beneficial for us
link |
00:59:29.900
to not go into the same state as the other.
link |
00:59:33.660
But the important feature here
link |
00:59:35.900
is that when we talk about emotional matching or empathy
link |
00:59:39.020
or going into the same state
link |
00:59:40.300
or not going into the same state,
link |
00:59:41.740
what we're really talking about
link |
00:59:43.340
is whether or not the autonomic seesaw of one individual
link |
00:59:48.540
is driving the autonomic seesaw of the other individual.
link |
00:59:52.180
And this is a vital principle
link |
00:59:54.500
for how we fall in love and form attachments.
link |
00:59:57.540
And it's actually part of the desire and mating process
link |
01:00:00.420
itself.
link |
01:00:02.660
I would go so far as to say
link |
01:00:04.420
that one of the prerequisites
link |
01:00:07.740
to the propagation and expansion of our species
link |
01:00:11.840
is this notion of autonomic regulation
link |
01:00:15.440
and to some extent matching of autonomic nervous systems.
link |
01:00:18.720
Let me explain what I mean.
link |
01:00:20.900
Last I checked,
link |
01:00:22.320
the only way that new humans can be created
link |
01:00:24.680
is by way of sperm meeting egg,
link |
01:00:27.060
either in body or in dish,
link |
01:00:29.800
but sperm meets egg.
link |
01:00:31.220
And then typically nine months later,
link |
01:00:33.940
we have a human baby.
link |
01:00:36.480
The process of bringing sperm to egg,
link |
01:00:40.500
mating behavior, sex behavior in humans
link |
01:00:43.060
is one of autonomic regulation.
link |
01:00:46.640
And what I mean by that is
link |
01:00:50.780
the process of finding a mate.
link |
01:00:54.140
And in this case,
link |
01:00:54.980
there's actually someone to mate with typically,
link |
01:00:57.140
while scenarios vary,
link |
01:00:58.240
typically is one of elevated autonomic arousal,
link |
01:01:03.080
meaning increased activation
link |
01:01:04.900
of the so-called sympathetic nervous system.
link |
01:01:07.060
This is related to dopamine release
link |
01:01:09.140
and it's related to epinephrine release.
link |
01:01:11.300
There has to be a pursuit
link |
01:01:13.100
or at least there has to be a mobilization
link |
01:01:16.260
to arrive in the same location whereby one can mate.
link |
01:01:20.360
That almost always is the case.
link |
01:01:22.500
However, the sexual arousal itself
link |
01:01:28.560
is in both males and females
link |
01:01:31.800
is actually driven primarily
link |
01:01:34.600
by the parasympathetic arm of the autonomic nervous system.
link |
01:01:38.980
So while pursuit is one of alertness
link |
01:01:42.720
and sympathetic drive, as we say,
link |
01:01:45.420
again, sympathy is not really what's at play here,
link |
01:01:48.200
that the word simpa means together
link |
01:01:49.980
and the activation of the autonomic nervous system
link |
01:01:52.480
toward more alert state
link |
01:01:53.780
is because of a sympathetic nervous system,
link |
01:01:55.800
meaning the co-activation together
link |
01:01:57.720
of many neurons in the brain and spinal cord.
link |
01:02:00.320
But then the actual physiological arousal state
link |
01:02:04.480
that we call sexual arousal
link |
01:02:05.840
is predominantly parasympathetically driven, okay?
link |
01:02:09.960
To be quite direct about this,
link |
01:02:11.400
if the sympathetic nervous system activation is too high,
link |
01:02:14.320
the sexual arousal response cannot happen
link |
01:02:16.560
in either males or in females, it's inhibited.
link |
01:02:20.120
However, the orgasm and ejaculation response,
link |
01:02:25.000
which if you think about it is required
link |
01:02:27.720
for sperm to meet egg is sympathetic driven.
link |
01:02:34.460
And then after orgasm and ejaculation,
link |
01:02:37.380
the parasympathetic nervous system kicks back in
link |
01:02:40.040
and there's a calming and relaxation.
link |
01:02:42.320
So the arc of mating involves sympathetic arousal, okay?
link |
01:02:47.320
Not sympathy, but alertness and arousal for pursuit.
link |
01:02:52.240
Then a tilt of the seesaw,
link |
01:02:53.920
at least to some degree for arousal of the sort
link |
01:02:57.160
that we typically hear of, of sexual arousal.
link |
01:03:00.000
Then at the point of orgasm and ejaculation
link |
01:03:03.640
is back to a sympathetic response.
link |
01:03:06.200
And how can I say that?
link |
01:03:07.400
How do I know that?
link |
01:03:08.640
The sympathetic nervous system,
link |
01:03:10.380
meaning neurons within the sympathetic arm
link |
01:03:12.280
of the autonomic nervous system
link |
01:03:13.560
are what drive ejaculation and orgasm.
link |
01:03:17.400
And then afterward, there's a return
link |
01:03:20.800
to increased parasympathetic activation.
link |
01:03:24.000
And we don't know for sure why that happens,
link |
01:03:26.600
but it's thought that in species that pair bond,
link |
01:03:30.720
humans generally pair bond, not always,
link |
01:03:34.260
the return to more parasympathetic activation
link |
01:03:36.920
after orgasm and ejaculation is thought to increase
link |
01:03:39.840
the exchange of pheromonal odors, excuse me,
link |
01:03:43.120
and to increase pillow talk and pair bonding
link |
01:03:45.640
of different kinds, okay?
link |
01:03:47.240
So that's the seesaw going back and forth
link |
01:03:51.440
is actually built into the process
link |
01:03:53.500
by which our entire species propagates.
link |
01:03:57.100
So in some ways, every human is required
link |
01:04:01.620
to navigate that process
link |
01:04:03.320
if they want their offspring to persist.
link |
01:04:05.320
And of course, nowadays there are technologies
link |
01:04:07.600
like in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination.
link |
01:04:12.600
There are a variety of ways
link |
01:04:13.800
that technology has allowed people
link |
01:04:15.360
to circumvent the actual physical mating process
link |
01:04:17.880
in the way that I described.
link |
01:04:19.140
But by and large, that's the way it's done,
link |
01:04:21.700
and certainly that's the way it was done historically
link |
01:04:23.900
for if not tens of thousands
link |
01:04:25.700
or hundreds of thousands of years.
link |
01:04:27.760
That process is also what happens
link |
01:04:30.920
in all mammalian species that mate, okay?
link |
01:04:34.000
So I'm overlooking an entire literature of animal studies.
link |
01:04:38.640
The classic studies of this were done by two individuals.
link |
01:04:41.760
I'll just briefly mention them
link |
01:04:42.760
in case you want to look at the literature.
link |
01:04:44.960
There's a guy at the Rockefeller University
link |
01:04:47.420
named Donald Pfaff, P-F-A-F-F,
link |
01:04:50.880
who has done beautiful studies
link |
01:04:52.380
identifying the neural circuitry
link |
01:04:53.800
of what's called the lordosis response.
link |
01:04:56.040
Unlike in humans, the mating behavior of animals
link |
01:04:59.580
is rather stereotyped in terms of the positions
link |
01:05:01.800
that they occupy, and the lordosis response
link |
01:05:04.000
is a kind of a U-shaping or a bending up
link |
01:05:06.840
of the hindquarters of typically of rodents,
link |
01:05:08.860
but of other animals as well.
link |
01:05:10.380
The male mounting is almost always from behind
link |
01:05:13.640
except in some species of primates,
link |
01:05:15.520
and that lordosis response is only going to occur
link |
01:05:19.520
during particular phases of the estrus cycle.
link |
01:05:22.320
The estrus cycle is sort of the analog
link |
01:05:25.900
to the menstrual cycle, but it's not 28 days,
link |
01:05:28.180
it's four days or some other duration
link |
01:05:30.400
in other animals, depending on the animal.
link |
01:05:32.720
The lordosis response is strongly regulated by odors,
link |
01:05:36.000
by contact, and is estrogen and testosterone controlled,
link |
01:05:40.120
and then the male portion of the mating sequence in animals,
link |
01:05:45.280
the mounting and thrusting and ejaculation as they're called
link |
01:05:47.760
or mounting, thrusting, intromission and ejaculation,
link |
01:05:49.960
those are the four scientific categories
link |
01:05:51.740
that have been described, that's presence in rodents
link |
01:05:54.960
and also in dogs, where it was primarily studied
link |
01:05:57.400
by Frank Beach, who was at University of California Berkeley
link |
01:06:01.680
for a long time, and the entire literature
link |
01:06:04.120
around the neural circuitry for sexual mating behavior
link |
01:06:07.120
in animals largely stemmed from the work of Donald Pfaff
link |
01:06:12.620
and Frank Beach and their scientific offspring,
link |
01:06:15.360
not their actual offspring.
link |
01:06:17.320
You can look at that literature if you like.
link |
01:06:19.600
There have been human neuroimaging studies of the process
link |
01:06:23.680
that I described a few minutes ago, believe it or not,
link |
01:06:26.340
of people in brain scanners,
link |
01:06:29.400
not necessarily mating with other people,
link |
01:06:31.280
but going through that arc of arousal,
link |
01:06:34.560
sympathetic activation during orgasm or ejaculation,
link |
01:06:38.960
and then the post-ejaculatory or orgasmic phase
link |
01:06:42.420
in both men and women, and the brain areas associated
link |
01:06:45.260
with those have all been mapped out now.
link |
01:06:49.480
The spinal cord areas that control things like erection,
link |
01:06:54.440
vaginal lubrication, ejaculation, and orgasm,
link |
01:06:57.100
those have also been mapped out,
link |
01:06:58.660
and this has all been explored from the perspective
link |
01:07:00.860
of both basic science, just to get an understanding
link |
01:07:03.420
of how our species has sexual interactions and reproduces,
link |
01:07:07.780
but also from the perspective of, for instance,
link |
01:07:10.380
trying to repair sexual function after spinal cord injury,
link |
01:07:14.780
which is a prominent concern for a lot of people,
link |
01:07:18.080
depending on where they have their injury,
link |
01:07:19.740
but in the number of people that have spinal cord injuries.
link |
01:07:22.820
So this is both vital biological and clinical data.
link |
01:07:28.860
The neural circuits for everything that I just described
link |
01:07:32.500
reside in the autonomic nervous system
link |
01:07:34.560
and are coordinated with the neural circuits
link |
01:07:36.500
that are associated with empathy.
link |
01:07:38.340
The neural circuits for empathy, again, there are many,
link |
01:07:41.420
but mainly two structures that you should know about,
link |
01:07:43.580
the prefrontal cortex,
link |
01:07:44.660
which is how we perceive things outside of us
link |
01:07:47.420
and make decisions on the basis of those perceptions,
link |
01:07:49.860
how we organize those decisions,
link |
01:07:52.040
and an area of the brain called the insula, I-N-S-U-L-A.
link |
01:07:55.500
The insula is a really interesting brain area
link |
01:07:58.460
that allows us to interocept to pay attention
link |
01:08:01.940
to what's going on inside our body
link |
01:08:04.100
and to split some of our attention to exterocept.
link |
01:08:07.420
And the mating dance,
link |
01:08:09.080
whether or not it's the dinner and date portion
link |
01:08:11.820
of the mating dance or the actual physical dance
link |
01:08:14.260
part of the main dance or actual mating
link |
01:08:16.500
and sexual behavior, kissing or otherwise,
link |
01:08:20.220
that is a coordinated activity of two bodies.
link |
01:08:25.000
Typically it's two.
link |
01:08:26.060
I realize sometimes it's more, sometimes it's only one,
link |
01:08:28.300
but typically it's two bodies,
link |
01:08:30.820
at least in the framework we're using here.
link |
01:08:33.240
That coordinated dance is one in which
link |
01:08:35.760
the autonomic nervous system of one individual
link |
01:08:39.340
in general is coordinating with the autonomic nervous system
link |
01:08:41.860
of the other individual.
link |
01:08:42.900
And the insula is essentially splitting one's attention
link |
01:08:47.380
between how we feel ourselves, how our body feels,
link |
01:08:52.160
what we're thinking with the thinking
link |
01:08:54.480
and the bodily sensations of the other.
link |
01:08:57.300
And that can be communicated obviously through words.
link |
01:09:00.620
I can be communicated through sounds.
link |
01:09:02.300
It can be communicated through touch
link |
01:09:04.080
and it can be communicated through a number
link |
01:09:05.820
of kind of more subtle cues like pupil size
link |
01:09:08.900
or whether or not,
link |
01:09:10.300
certainly in cases where we recognize the person
link |
01:09:12.360
and we kind of know their responses,
link |
01:09:14.500
their autonomic responses under different conditions,
link |
01:09:16.420
we can assess it.
link |
01:09:17.620
Is the person comfortable?
link |
01:09:18.860
Are they uncomfortable?
link |
01:09:20.060
Are they more focused on me or on themselves?
link |
01:09:23.180
This is the coordinated silent dance
link |
01:09:25.520
that if we look at in neurobiological terms,
link |
01:09:28.600
we can really see is all about the autonomic nervous system,
link |
01:09:32.780
whether or not it's time to tip the seesaw
link |
01:09:36.020
to one side or the other,
link |
01:09:37.740
depending on whether or not the other person's seesaw
link |
01:09:39.980
is tilted higher or lower than the other.
link |
01:09:42.420
Okay, so we have the autonomic nervous system
link |
01:09:44.220
and then we have this thing that we're calling empathy,
link |
01:09:46.680
which is really about autonomic matching.
link |
01:09:49.420
And again, the insula and the prefrontal cortex
link |
01:09:51.980
are neural circuits that are crucial for autonomic matching
link |
01:09:55.700
because they allow us to say what's out there
link |
01:09:58.420
and do I want to match to it or not, okay?
link |
01:10:01.720
And then the third category of neural circuit
link |
01:10:04.400
that Helen Fisher and others have found to be important
link |
01:10:06.880
for desire, love and attachment
link |
01:10:08.520
is the neural circuit associated with self-delusion.
link |
01:10:12.280
What do we mean by that?
link |
01:10:14.060
Well, first of all,
link |
01:10:16.860
self-delusion implies a kind of cynicism
link |
01:10:20.420
about love and attachment.
link |
01:10:21.640
And I think it was George Bernard Shaw that said,
link |
01:10:24.580
love is really about overestimating the differences
link |
01:10:27.440
between individuals.
link |
01:10:29.200
Actually, when I hear that and as I say it,
link |
01:10:30.960
I really don't like that quote.
link |
01:10:32.840
I have no bone to pick with George Bernard Shaw,
link |
01:10:34.900
but what it suggests, and I think what he meant was that,
link |
01:10:40.280
in love and attachment,
link |
01:10:41.920
we tend to put so much value in the other
link |
01:10:44.600
that we forget that many of the processes
link |
01:10:46.940
that are going on in our brain and body
link |
01:10:49.100
actually could be evoked by many other people too.
link |
01:10:51.720
But I think it somewhat overlooks
link |
01:10:54.020
the enormous power of attachment
link |
01:10:55.720
and the ways in which somebody's smell,
link |
01:10:58.360
somebody's voice, somebody's everything,
link |
01:11:01.820
or somebody's particular thing or things
link |
01:11:04.320
can really become so vital for our autonomic nervous system
link |
01:11:08.340
to feel soothed and to feel elated, et cetera.
link |
01:11:10.980
So I think that while the quote is accurate
link |
01:11:15.640
in the one sense,
link |
01:11:16.480
I think it does overlook the neural circuits for attachment
link |
01:11:19.660
and just how deeply wired those can become for us.
link |
01:11:23.140
So I will balance that quote
link |
01:11:25.980
with an enormous number of other quotes
link |
01:11:27.820
that I won't mention, but that you can find out there
link |
01:11:30.780
that really point to how incredible the person is
link |
01:11:35.760
that one tends to be attached to,
link |
01:11:37.240
that there's really only one or several people
link |
01:11:41.220
that could ever exist
link |
01:11:42.060
that could evoke those feelings from us.
link |
01:11:43.600
And of course you can read your Neruda poetry
link |
01:11:47.420
and you can find these things all over the place
link |
01:11:49.060
in music and poetry and writing.
link |
01:11:51.400
So for every cynical quote about these neural circuits
link |
01:11:55.020
being generic and could be activated by anybody,
link |
01:11:57.940
I think you'll find an ample number of opposing quotes
link |
01:12:02.540
that these neural circuits can only be activated
link |
01:12:04.900
by that special someone or that particular person,
link |
01:12:07.780
or maybe in just a small set of those people.
link |
01:12:10.020
So what of delusion?
link |
01:12:11.740
Well, the work of Helen Fisher and others
link |
01:12:15.520
has really pointed to the fact that desire, love,
link |
01:12:19.540
and attachment are three separate phases
link |
01:12:22.500
of what we call romantic relationships
link |
01:12:25.380
that typically, not always,
link |
01:12:27.660
but typically desire tends to come first
link |
01:12:29.820
or falls in the early phase,
link |
01:12:32.300
that the process of romantic slash sexual interactions,
link |
01:12:36.860
it doesn't necessarily have to be sex itself,
link |
01:12:38.720
but certainly something that involves intimacy of some kind
link |
01:12:44.180
and generally touch of some kind
link |
01:12:46.900
eventually transitions into what we call love,
link |
01:12:49.260
which eventually transitions into what we call attachment.
link |
01:12:53.020
And I should just mention touch
link |
01:12:55.060
because touch is a fundamental aspect of this whole process.
link |
01:12:59.600
There's an article, a research article I should say,
link |
01:13:03.260
the title of it is relationship specific encoding
link |
01:13:05.820
of social touch in somatosensory and insular cortices,
link |
01:13:10.060
cortices being cortex, cortex is plural, cortices.
link |
01:13:13.940
And again, there's our friend, the insula.
link |
01:13:16.100
So this is a study that explored what brain areas
link |
01:13:18.900
and what body areas are activated by specific forms
link |
01:13:23.580
of attachment and social touch.
link |
01:13:25.740
And what they found not surprisingly
link |
01:13:27.460
is that the areas of the brain
link |
01:13:29.500
they're associated with touch, the somatosensory areas,
link |
01:13:32.060
but more interestingly, the insula cortex
link |
01:13:35.320
are strongly activated by touch.
link |
01:13:38.860
So touch and the amount of touching and proximity
link |
01:13:42.100
and skin contact not surprisingly activates brain areas
link |
01:13:45.540
associated with somatosensory touch,
link |
01:13:48.400
but also the insular cortex,
link |
01:13:50.140
which again is this brain area that links the internal,
link |
01:13:53.660
our feelings about what's going on inside us
link |
01:13:55.740
and at the surface of our skin with events external.
link |
01:13:58.860
And they found activation of a number of brain areas,
link |
01:14:01.980
the amygdala, orbitofrontal cortex, and so on and so on.
link |
01:14:05.620
That's not as essential as just understanding
link |
01:14:07.420
that the insula is the place in which we start
link |
01:14:10.200
to take our experience of our internal landscape,
link |
01:14:13.760
attach that to our perceptions of the external landscape,
link |
01:14:16.700
and then assign that a value
link |
01:14:19.080
or assign that some sort of interpretation.
link |
01:14:22.060
And positive delusion is predictive
link |
01:14:26.540
of long-term attachment.
link |
01:14:28.220
What do we mean by positive delusion?
link |
01:14:29.620
Positive delusion is the contradiction
link |
01:14:32.820
of that George Bernard Shaw quote.
link |
01:14:34.960
It's the belief that only this person
link |
01:14:38.600
can make me feel this way.
link |
01:14:40.580
This other person holds the capacity
link |
01:14:43.380
to make me feel this way physically or emotionally or both.
link |
01:14:47.700
And so as we move from desire to love to attachment,
link |
01:14:52.780
our brain circuitry is literally getting tuned up
link |
01:14:55.860
such that that individual that we happen to be attached to,
link |
01:14:59.060
again, here thinking about monogamous relationships,
link |
01:15:01.460
but I guess for non-monogamous relationship be individuals,
link |
01:15:06.820
is and are the way in which our autonomic nervous system
link |
01:15:10.260
can be regulated.
link |
01:15:11.140
They actually get access to our control panel.
link |
01:15:14.220
So it's our autonomic nervous system, empathy,
link |
01:15:16.900
and this positive delusion.
link |
01:15:19.540
Now, positive delusion is critical.
link |
01:15:21.940
If you look at the stability of relationships over time,
link |
01:15:25.840
something that's been extensively studied
link |
01:15:27.800
mainly by psychologists, but now also by neurobiologists,
link |
01:15:31.600
what you find is that there are some key features
link |
01:15:36.280
of interactions between individuals
link |
01:15:38.240
that predict that a relationship will last.
link |
01:15:41.520
And those are many, but mainly fall
link |
01:15:43.980
under this category of positive delusions.
link |
01:15:46.420
I'll return to those and what those exactly look like,
link |
01:15:48.940
but there are also just a handful of things
link |
01:15:51.940
that predict that a relationship will fail over time.
link |
01:15:55.320
This is largely the work of the Gottman's.
link |
01:15:58.180
It's actually a husband and wife team
link |
01:15:59.760
up at the University of Washington in Seattle.
link |
01:16:03.200
The Gottman's have run a laboratory
link |
01:16:06.180
in the Department of Psychology for a long time.
link |
01:16:08.020
They've also done a lot of public-facing work
link |
01:16:09.860
around relationships.
link |
01:16:11.580
And they've talked about the various aspects
link |
01:16:15.600
of relationships and interactions between people
link |
01:16:17.880
that predict either staying together or breaking up,
link |
01:16:20.260
so much so that they've established a method
link |
01:16:24.040
by which they can look at video interactions
link |
01:16:26.720
between couples and with very high degree of certainty
link |
01:16:30.540
predict whether or not those couples will stay together
link |
01:16:32.680
or break up over time.
link |
01:16:33.980
And they've identified what they call
link |
01:16:35.460
the four horsemen of relationships.
link |
01:16:37.900
These are things that essentially almost always predict
link |
01:16:43.160
that a couple will break up.
link |
01:16:45.140
And I think the current number on this
link |
01:16:47.540
is that Gottman can predict divorce with 94% accuracy,
link |
01:16:53.060
which if you think about is pretty remarkable.
link |
01:16:55.100
So even though these are purely psychological studies,
link |
01:16:57.940
I'm not aware of any analysis of underlying physiology.
link |
01:17:01.500
There are some things that they can observe
link |
01:17:04.160
between couples that can lead them to predict
link |
01:17:07.260
whether or not a couple will stay together
link |
01:17:08.780
or break up with 94% accuracy.
link |
01:17:11.380
So what are those things?
link |
01:17:12.760
Those four behaviors, what they call
link |
01:17:14.420
the four horsemen of the apocalypse for relationships,
link |
01:17:19.780
are one, criticism, two, defensiveness,
link |
01:17:24.200
three, stonewalling, and four, contempt,
link |
01:17:27.560
with contempt being the most powerful predictor
link |
01:17:31.580
of breaking up.
link |
01:17:34.060
Criticism, of course, does not mean
link |
01:17:35.980
that there's no place for criticism in stable relationships.
link |
01:17:40.880
Of course, there is.
link |
01:17:42.100
It has to do with how frequent
link |
01:17:43.780
and how intensely that criticism is voiced.
link |
01:17:46.100
Defensiveness, of course, is defensiveness.
link |
01:17:49.380
We know as the sort of lack of ability
link |
01:17:52.980
to hear another or to adopt their stance.
link |
01:17:55.540
So lack of empathy, I think,
link |
01:17:57.300
is one way to interpret defensiveness.
link |
01:18:00.380
Stonewalling, which is actually another form
link |
01:18:03.220
of lack of empathy.
link |
01:18:04.100
It's a turning off of this neural circuit
link |
01:18:06.180
that's so critical for desire, love, and attachment.
link |
01:18:09.180
The stonewalling essentially means the emotional response
link |
01:18:13.580
or the request of another is completely cut off.
link |
01:18:15.500
So I don't think there's been brain imaging of this,
link |
01:18:18.800
but I think we can reasonably imagine
link |
01:18:20.840
that it involves untethering your insular response
link |
01:18:24.060
from the other and what they're dealing with
link |
01:18:26.900
and focusing your insular response, no pun intended,
link |
01:18:31.420
on your own internal state or perhaps the state
link |
01:18:34.200
of someone else entirely.
link |
01:18:35.980
We'll talk about infidelity in a moment.
link |
01:18:37.420
And then contempt.
link |
01:18:38.540
And contempt has actually been referred to
link |
01:18:40.740
as the sulfuric acid of relationship.
link |
01:18:43.260
I didn't say that, but Gottman and colleagues have,
link |
01:18:45.840
that it is such a powerful predictor
link |
01:18:48.460
of divorce and breakups in the future.
link |
01:18:51.780
And contempt, of course, by definition,
link |
01:18:54.180
is the feeling that a person or thing
link |
01:18:56.300
is beneath consideration, worthlessness,
link |
01:18:58.780
or deserving scorn.
link |
01:19:00.820
And apparently they can identify this
link |
01:19:02.660
in the videos of couples having discussions
link |
01:19:05.100
and interacting by very elaborate eye rolls,
link |
01:19:09.180
by expressions of anger in one individual
link |
01:19:12.740
when their partner is actually expressing enthusiasm
link |
01:19:15.480
or excitement about something.
link |
01:19:16.940
It's the, oh yeah, you would say that,
link |
01:19:19.980
or deep-seated resentment toward the other,
link |
01:19:23.460
so much so that it's apparent that one
link |
01:19:26.580
kind of actively dislikes the other partner.
link |
01:19:29.220
So contempt, disregard for something
link |
01:19:33.340
that should be taken into account
link |
01:19:34.580
is the other way to think about it.
link |
01:19:36.500
Runs counter to all of the neural circuits,
link |
01:19:39.400
all three of the neural circuits
link |
01:19:40.700
that we talked about before.
link |
01:19:41.700
It certainly is, it is the antithesis of empathy.
link |
01:19:45.300
It is anything but a positive delusion.
link |
01:19:47.500
It's really looking at the other individual,
link |
01:19:49.500
either accurately or inaccurately,
link |
01:19:51.460
as somebody that you kind of despise.
link |
01:19:53.780
And then it is an absolute inversion
link |
01:19:57.380
of the autonomic seesaw matching
link |
01:19:59.160
that I was talking about before.
link |
01:20:00.800
It's a dissociating of your seesaw from their seesaw.
link |
01:20:03.580
They're very excited about something,
link |
01:20:05.100
you're unexcited by it.
link |
01:20:06.900
In fact, it's an inversion of their seesaw
link |
01:20:09.100
where they're excited, you're down.
link |
01:20:12.700
They're down, you're up, okay?
link |
01:20:14.880
So it's basically an inversion of all of the neural circuits
link |
01:20:19.600
that Helen Fisher and others have identified
link |
01:20:22.060
as critical for desire, love, and attachment.
link |
01:20:24.420
And therefore it's not surprising that it is
link |
01:20:27.660
so strongly predictive of breakups
link |
01:20:29.460
and in the case of married couples of divorce.
link |
01:20:32.100
For those of you that are interested in the work
link |
01:20:33.980
of the Gottman's and similar work,
link |
01:20:37.000
they've written several popular books.
link |
01:20:39.180
They're fairly easy to find.
link |
01:20:40.820
We can link to one of those in the caption.
link |
01:20:43.980
But they've also developed some quite interesting
link |
01:20:46.720
online resources in their so-called love lab.
link |
01:20:50.460
I guess it's fortunate that they didn't call it
link |
01:20:52.240
the hate lab or the breakup lab
link |
01:20:54.380
because they focused a lot on what predicts breakups.
link |
01:20:56.900
But they've also written extensively
link |
01:20:59.320
and researched extensively in peer-reviewed studies
link |
01:21:03.580
what makes people find appropriate partners for them
link |
01:21:08.140
and to maintain those partnerships over time.
link |
01:21:12.420
So you can go, you can search for Love Lab,
link |
01:21:15.040
University of Washington, Gottman,
link |
01:21:17.140
or any number of their various books.
link |
01:21:19.340
I think you'll find some useful resources there.
link |
01:21:22.120
So I want to shift back to the work of Helen Fisher.
link |
01:21:28.120
She's made some very interesting statements
link |
01:21:31.120
and some very interesting observations
link |
01:21:33.280
that at least to my mind,
link |
01:21:34.960
map very well onto the knowledge of neural circuitry
link |
01:21:38.560
both in humans and in non-human primates
link |
01:21:40.520
and in other species.
link |
01:21:41.600
I realized that she's not the only name in the game,
link |
01:21:45.880
but she's made some observations
link |
01:21:47.600
that I think are very, as we say parsimonious,
link |
01:21:51.040
meaning they allow us to organize a lot of this stuff
link |
01:21:53.660
into some distinct frameworks.
link |
01:21:55.800
She's also done some really beautiful studies
link |
01:21:58.800
that involve data from millions
link |
01:22:00.740
or even tens of millions of individuals on dating sites.
link |
01:22:04.000
So I'm going to share those with you in a moment.
link |
01:22:05.720
But before I do that, I just want to paraphrase Dr. Fisher
link |
01:22:11.640
who said that sex drive or desire,
link |
01:22:15.960
the pursuit of someone to mate with,
link |
01:22:18.040
meaning to mate the verb, not necessarily to find a mate,
link |
01:22:23.800
may be, she didn't say definitively,
link |
01:22:26.520
but maybe a way to forage for potential love partners.
link |
01:22:29.380
That the arc of this whole business
link |
01:22:32.480
is really the order that we're describing it,
link |
01:22:34.560
that it's desire, then love, and then attachment.
link |
01:22:39.360
And that oftentimes people can get confused.
link |
01:22:43.060
You may know some of these people,
link |
01:22:44.640
you may be one of these individuals
link |
01:22:46.680
who might confuse desire for attachment
link |
01:22:49.480
or might confuse love for attachment,
link |
01:22:53.800
but that there's a sequence of recruitment
link |
01:22:56.740
of these neural circuits that's established first
link |
01:22:59.600
from the pursuit of someone to mate with.
link |
01:23:02.400
And she's placed this in the context
link |
01:23:05.000
of kind of more modern dating themes
link |
01:23:07.280
where depending on culture, people might explore several,
link |
01:23:13.360
maybe many, many individuals before quote unquote,
link |
01:23:16.400
settling down with somebody,
link |
01:23:18.720
at least for some period of time.
link |
01:23:21.060
I think that's an interesting framework
link |
01:23:23.440
because it circumvents a lot
link |
01:23:25.640
of the frankly unanswerable questions
link |
01:23:29.560
about whether or not humans were meant to be monogamous
link |
01:23:33.120
or whether or not they weren't.
link |
01:23:34.180
Those are conversations that hold cultural context,
link |
01:23:37.080
that hold all sorts of contexts
link |
01:23:39.720
that really can't be addressed in a laboratory setting.
link |
01:23:42.720
But this idea that sex drive is a way to forage
link |
01:23:46.720
for potential love partners
link |
01:23:48.400
and that love is a kind of a litmus test
link |
01:23:51.260
for whether or not longer term
link |
01:23:53.480
or deeper attachments can and will form
link |
01:23:55.880
is one that at least makes sense to me.
link |
01:23:58.360
Later in the episode,
link |
01:23:59.200
we'll talk about this notion of sex drive and desire.
link |
01:24:02.720
I'll actually talk about some tools
link |
01:24:05.000
that have very strong data really to support them
link |
01:24:08.960
in terms of things that people can do
link |
01:24:10.840
or take to increase libido, both men and women,
link |
01:24:14.540
because there's actually quite good data on that now.
link |
01:24:17.320
But in the meantime,
link |
01:24:18.740
I want to talk about some of the work
link |
01:24:20.440
that Dr. Fisher has done in terms of categorizing people
link |
01:24:24.600
into, again, we have four groups.
link |
01:24:27.120
These are distinct from the A, B, C, and D
link |
01:24:30.240
attachment styles described earlier.
link |
01:24:32.180
Although as I described them,
link |
01:24:33.620
you might be able to map them somewhat onto those.
link |
01:24:36.520
And these four groups are groups
link |
01:24:40.120
that were defined through her studies
link |
01:24:42.440
of people that were or are,
link |
01:24:44.920
I don't know if they were
link |
01:24:46.360
or if they are still on match.com,
link |
01:24:49.560
but a very extensive data set.
link |
01:24:51.600
So again, millions, if not tens of millions of individuals,
link |
01:24:55.120
the number I heard her quote,
link |
01:24:56.640
and forgive me if this is not accurate,
link |
01:24:59.240
is that in upwards of 40 million individuals,
link |
01:25:04.340
in terms of whether or not their neurochemical
link |
01:25:06.800
and hormone systems are tuned toward
link |
01:25:09.120
particular types of behaviors.
link |
01:25:12.360
What do I mean by that?
link |
01:25:13.280
Well, both men and women, males and females,
link |
01:25:17.200
have both testosterone and estrogen.
link |
01:25:19.280
Typically, again, these are averages,
link |
01:25:21.480
but typically men have more testosterone
link |
01:25:23.300
than they do estrogen,
link |
01:25:24.620
and they have more testosterone than do women
link |
01:25:26.880
and less estrogen than do women.
link |
01:25:28.600
Typically women have more estrogen
link |
01:25:30.620
than they do testosterone, again, averages,
link |
01:25:34.280
and they have less testosterone than men,
link |
01:25:38.240
more estrogen than men, and so on and so forth.
link |
01:25:40.860
But both hormone systems are active
link |
01:25:42.920
in both sets of individuals.
link |
01:25:46.100
And of course, all humans, as far as we know,
link |
01:25:50.240
manufacture both dopamine and serotonin.
link |
01:25:53.040
Dopamine, as I mentioned earlier,
link |
01:25:54.400
has a number of effects in the brain and body,
link |
01:25:57.320
but one of the primary effects is that it places us
link |
01:25:59.400
into states of motivation and pursuit for various things.
link |
01:26:03.360
There is a somewhat close relationship
link |
01:26:06.120
between the dopamine system and the testosterone system
link |
01:26:10.480
in the hypothalamus,
link |
01:26:11.760
this brain area above the roof of your mouth,
link |
01:26:13.320
and the pituitary gland,
link |
01:26:14.680
which is responsible for making hormones
link |
01:26:17.040
that make the ovaries and or testes
link |
01:26:21.460
secrete testosterone or estrogen.
link |
01:26:24.120
So there's a lot of signaling that occurs
link |
01:26:26.560
such that dopamine and testosterone tend to operate
link |
01:26:29.920
as kind of close cousins in a system of pursuit.
link |
01:26:33.360
And conversely, the serotonin system tends to, on average,
link |
01:26:37.320
collaborate with the estrogen system
link |
01:26:39.660
to impart certain physiological functions and behaviors.
link |
01:26:43.400
So these aren't hard and fast, or I guess better stated,
link |
01:26:48.400
these aren't strict black and white categorizations,
link |
01:26:51.420
but I think those general themes hold
link |
01:26:53.480
when you look at the animal and human data.
link |
01:26:56.480
So Dr. Fisher has taken some liberties,
link |
01:27:00.520
but I think they are what I would call
link |
01:27:02.560
logically and scientifically
link |
01:27:04.160
and neurobiologically grounded liberties
link |
01:27:06.760
in classifying individuals who are on these dating sites
link |
01:27:10.520
according to the types of things they report
link |
01:27:12.960
about themselves and the type of people
link |
01:27:15.120
they tend to match with on these dating sites
link |
01:27:19.080
and created these four categories.
link |
01:27:22.580
The four categories are,
link |
01:27:24.520
she calls one the dopamine category.
link |
01:27:27.720
So these are people who would have high dopamine.
link |
01:27:30.420
And again, that's just a name.
link |
01:27:33.960
It doesn't mean they have low anything else,
link |
01:27:36.760
but they are high on the dopamine scale.
link |
01:27:39.440
People who rate high on the dopamine scale
link |
01:27:42.600
tend to be what the scientists and psychologists
link |
01:27:44.880
call high sensation seeking, novel seeking.
link |
01:27:47.040
They like new things.
link |
01:27:48.320
They like spontaneity.
link |
01:27:49.800
They tend to be very adventurous.
link |
01:27:51.280
And I think that's largely true.
link |
01:27:52.900
If you look at conditions
link |
01:27:55.060
where dopamine is super physiological,
link |
01:27:59.480
it's elevated beyond abnormal levels, things like mania,
link |
01:28:04.840
or when people take certain drugs of abuse
link |
01:28:07.360
like cocaine or amphetamine
link |
01:28:08.640
that really raise dopamine levels up very, very high
link |
01:28:12.500
for some period of time,
link |
01:28:13.760
they do tend to increase energy motivation
link |
01:28:17.080
and novelty seeking.
link |
01:28:18.040
And of course, drugs like amphetamine and cocaine
link |
01:28:20.060
have all sorts of deleterious effects
link |
01:28:22.120
that I don't need to go into here,
link |
01:28:23.160
but it's worth pointing out.
link |
01:28:24.880
But they don't tend to make people calm and relaxed
link |
01:28:27.260
and seek soothing interactions.
link |
01:28:30.680
Conversely, the group that Dr. Fisher
link |
01:28:33.720
calls the serotonin group
link |
01:28:36.520
tend to be more grounded in soothing activities,
link |
01:28:41.720
quiescent type activities.
link |
01:28:43.400
They actually tend to be on average,
link |
01:28:45.560
they tend to like rules and follow rules.
link |
01:28:47.760
They tend to be home bodies, this sort of thing.
link |
01:28:50.200
They're really, you can imagine them
link |
01:28:51.820
the sort of stable types, but they really like stability.
link |
01:28:54.960
They're not really into spontaneity as much,
link |
01:28:57.280
again, averages.
link |
01:28:58.280
And then she created two other categories,
link |
01:29:01.380
the testosterone category of high testosterone.
link |
01:29:04.600
This again could be males or females.
link |
01:29:07.600
And then the estrogen category again
link |
01:29:11.000
could be males or females.
link |
01:29:12.080
And she gave these different names
link |
01:29:14.520
that I won't go into here.
link |
01:29:15.680
You can look up her work online,
link |
01:29:16.980
but she, you know, names like the director
link |
01:29:18.840
and the follower and things like that.
link |
01:29:20.960
But I don't really want to use those
link |
01:29:22.160
as much as I want to stick to the biological terms.
link |
01:29:24.600
So we have dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen.
link |
01:29:28.440
Now that might seem like an unfair
link |
01:29:31.440
kind of overgeneralization,
link |
01:29:33.600
but what's interesting is not necessarily
link |
01:29:36.360
the name or the neurochemical system, right?
link |
01:29:38.600
Those could have just been called category one, two, three,
link |
01:29:41.320
and four for all that matters here.
link |
01:29:45.280
What is interesting is seeing how those different groups
link |
01:29:49.520
of individuals that she absolutely can categorize
link |
01:29:53.240
based on their self-reported preferences about behaviors
link |
01:29:58.120
and certain kinds of interactions,
link |
01:29:59.920
how those groups tend to pair up with people
link |
01:30:03.040
in the same or opposite categories.
link |
01:30:05.380
So what her studies reveal is that people
link |
01:30:07.960
that fall into the high sensation seeking,
link |
01:30:10.000
novelty seeking, spontaneity category,
link |
01:30:12.320
the one that she calls the high dopamine category,
link |
01:30:15.800
tend to pair up with, at least in the short term,
link |
01:30:19.000
tend to pair up with people who are also
link |
01:30:22.020
in that dopaminergic category.
link |
01:30:23.720
So these would be people that would spontaneously
link |
01:30:26.960
take a trip or explore something new or a new restaurant.
link |
01:30:30.000
They tend to be creative and explorative types.
link |
01:30:34.460
So that group on average tends to date and mate
link |
01:30:39.980
and potentially form long-term relationships
link |
01:30:42.900
within category, again, averages.
link |
01:30:46.000
Individuals that she placed into the serotonin group
link |
01:30:49.900
or what she hypothesized would be a high serotonin group,
link |
01:30:52.920
again, they didn't measure serotonin,
link |
01:30:54.780
but people that tend to place value on stability,
link |
01:30:58.440
on rules, on certain forms
link |
01:31:01.080
of kind of traditional organization at home
link |
01:31:04.400
and in relationships,
link |
01:31:05.560
those people also tended to pair up with select, date,
link |
01:31:11.440
we presume mate with, and form stable relationships
link |
01:31:14.680
with people in the same category.
link |
01:31:17.240
Now, individuals in the other two categories,
link |
01:31:19.760
the high testosterone group,
link |
01:31:21.520
and again, testosterone wasn't measured,
link |
01:31:23.480
but she called it the high testosterone group,
link |
01:31:25.540
but these are people that tend to be very directive.
link |
01:31:30.820
They tend to know what they want
link |
01:31:32.320
and are comfortable telling other people what they want
link |
01:31:35.520
and from them, these are individuals that in her studies
link |
01:31:40.880
and in other studies tend to be a little bit challenging,
link |
01:31:44.200
meaning they not necessarily challenging to be around,
link |
01:31:47.200
but they tend to challenge other people,
link |
01:31:49.160
kind of push them in order to expand their boundaries,
link |
01:31:52.740
either for sake of the relationship or just in general.
link |
01:31:55.840
And the people they tend to push
link |
01:31:57.160
are the people that they pair up with,
link |
01:31:59.200
which are the people in the estrogen category,
link |
01:32:01.240
what she called high estrogen.
link |
01:32:02.280
Again, they didn't measure estrogen,
link |
01:32:03.800
but the people in the estrogen category
link |
01:32:07.120
were the ones that described themselves
link |
01:32:09.240
and their choices in life
link |
01:32:10.840
and their preferences as being nurturing.
link |
01:32:13.440
They actually seem to like it
link |
01:32:15.000
when someone else is making the major decisions,
link |
01:32:18.560
not every decision.
link |
01:32:19.760
They certainly like to be heard, of course,
link |
01:32:22.120
in terms of their preferences, but that those two types,
link |
01:32:25.120
the, what she called the testosterone
link |
01:32:27.280
and the estrogen type tend to pair up.
link |
01:32:29.800
So why are these categorizations and these averages
link |
01:32:32.680
interesting to me,
link |
01:32:33.600
at least interesting enough to convey to you?
link |
01:32:36.260
The reason they're interesting to me is,
link |
01:32:38.920
again, not because of their names,
link |
01:32:40.460
these molecules were not measured in these individuals,
link |
01:32:43.240
but that they once again bring us
link |
01:32:45.480
to the themes that we addressed before,
link |
01:32:48.160
which are the autonomic nervous system
link |
01:32:50.880
and whether or not it tends to be shifted
link |
01:32:52.760
more towards alertness in action
link |
01:32:54.860
or more towards kind of a stable equilibrium
link |
01:32:57.520
or more towards kind of calm
link |
01:32:59.600
and whether or not individuals are selecting
link |
01:33:03.520
for people who have autonomic nervous systems
link |
01:33:06.200
that are more or less like theirs
link |
01:33:08.920
before they even meet, right?
link |
01:33:10.740
So again, going back to this seesaw analogy,
link |
01:33:13.920
it's almost like people who have the kind of flat seesaw,
link |
01:33:16.640
alert but calm, but not extremely alert,
link |
01:33:19.600
not extremely overly calm in situations,
link |
01:33:23.920
but kind of in the middle seem to be seeking out people
link |
01:33:26.780
that are also at that kind of autonomic equilibrium.
link |
01:33:31.340
People in the, what she called the dopamine category,
link |
01:33:33.720
which really can just be described
link |
01:33:35.080
as high sensation seeking, novelty seeking,
link |
01:33:37.300
they seem to want to pair with one another.
link |
01:33:39.040
So there's a selection for similar
link |
01:33:42.520
in two of the groups, autonomic tone.
link |
01:33:45.680
I find that very interesting because in that decision
link |
01:33:50.380
or that preference for similar autonomic tone,
link |
01:33:53.400
it essentially eliminates a lot of the requirement
link |
01:33:58.320
for figuring out how to match
link |
01:34:01.960
one's autonomic nervous system to another.
link |
01:34:03.680
They simply find someone with a similar tendency, okay?
link |
01:34:07.580
Whereas in the other two groups
link |
01:34:10.120
that she called testosterone and estrogen,
link |
01:34:11.720
the director type and the nurturing
link |
01:34:13.540
kind of somewhat follower type,
link |
01:34:16.240
there's an establishment of balance,
link |
01:34:18.980
but not between two individuals as a match,
link |
01:34:24.000
but rather on the whole in the relationship.
link |
01:34:26.920
One person is kind of driving the novelty seeking
link |
01:34:29.420
in the course of decisions and actions,
link |
01:34:30.960
and the other person is essentially agreeing to those.
link |
01:34:33.800
Now, assuming that those decisions are good for both people.
link |
01:34:37.420
And I emphasize good for both people
link |
01:34:39.200
because one of the themes that Dr. Fisher underscores
link |
01:34:41.880
and I'd like to underscore here as well
link |
01:34:44.040
is that it need not be the case that people pair up
link |
01:34:48.780
exactly according to these categorizations
link |
01:34:51.000
that I've described.
link |
01:34:52.680
Dopamine with dopamine, serotonin with serotonin,
link |
01:34:54.960
testosterone with estrogen, and so on.
link |
01:34:57.720
What is important is that there be a recognition
link |
01:35:00.920
and a respect for the other types
link |
01:35:03.760
or a recognition and a respect for the fact
link |
01:35:06.320
that both are of the same type.
link |
01:35:08.160
You could actually imagine, for instance,
link |
01:35:09.880
that two people of this high sensation seeking,
link |
01:35:12.480
novelty seeking could have a terrifically
link |
01:35:15.400
exciting relationship,
link |
01:35:16.520
but that it actually might be a relationship
link |
01:35:19.760
in which the financial stability isn't quite there
link |
01:35:23.620
or in which the basic stability isn't there.
link |
01:35:27.000
You could imagine, for instance,
link |
01:35:30.000
a situation in which a relationship between two people
link |
01:35:32.900
of what she called the high serotonin preference
link |
01:35:37.180
would have a relationship that was actually kind of dull
link |
01:35:39.640
in which both of them found themselves kind of bored
link |
01:35:41.760
at some point or in which there wasn't enough
link |
01:35:45.120
of the dynamic tension that sometimes is required
link |
01:35:49.080
in order to keep this cycle of desire,
link |
01:35:51.540
love, and attachment going,
link |
01:35:52.540
something that we will talk about in a moment.
link |
01:35:55.020
So the point here is not that one should necessarily pair up
link |
01:35:59.900
according to these arrangements that I described.
link |
01:36:02.900
The point is that on average, that's what tends to happen
link |
01:36:06.600
and that through a recognition that these categorizations
link |
01:36:10.660
exist, similar to the recognition that the type A, B, C,
link |
01:36:16.060
and D infant and toddler type attachments exist,
link |
01:36:19.940
that we can gain better self-awareness of who we are
link |
01:36:23.640
and how we tend to show up in romantic attachments
link |
01:36:26.800
and thereby navigate healthier mate seeking,
link |
01:36:31.920
healthier breakups, if the case dictates it,
link |
01:36:36.380
and in some cases, healthy long-term relationships
link |
01:36:39.340
by understanding that the other person
link |
01:36:41.280
can either be similar or complimentary to us.
link |
01:36:44.680
One is neither better than the other.
link |
01:36:47.060
It's simply the case that in all romantic attachments
link |
01:36:50.680
from the initial inception of that romantic attachment,
link |
01:36:54.540
desire, love, and attachment,
link |
01:36:58.080
there is an autonomic coordination.
link |
01:37:01.020
And of course there's coordination
link |
01:37:02.820
of all sorts of other things like food, sex, and sleep,
link |
01:37:06.580
and finances, and where people are going to live,
link |
01:37:09.260
and many other features.
link |
01:37:10.620
But that at the core of all that is a seeking
link |
01:37:14.300
of either autonomic likeness or autonomic differences.
link |
01:37:19.100
And I think that recognition can be extremely valuable
link |
01:37:22.660
in thinking about tools to enter and maintain relationships.
link |
01:37:27.060
If one thinks about their autonomic nervous system,
link |
01:37:30.400
not simply as something that is driven
link |
01:37:32.880
by external people and events,
link |
01:37:35.340
but that we can actually gain some control over
link |
01:37:37.940
through techniques of the sort that I talked about earlier
link |
01:37:40.420
and on previous podcasts, but also generally,
link |
01:37:43.160
if we are able to adjust our autonomic nervous system
link |
01:37:46.800
in order to at least appreciate or get some empathy
link |
01:37:50.720
into what someone else is experiencing,
link |
01:37:53.120
then we gain actual cognitive empathy.
link |
01:37:56.380
And this episode isn't about empathy per se,
link |
01:38:00.100
but the theme keeps coming up again and again.
link |
01:38:01.900
And I think it's worth mentioning
link |
01:38:03.380
that when you talk to psychologists,
link |
01:38:06.140
whether or not they're psychoanalysts
link |
01:38:07.500
or from another source of training,
link |
01:38:09.980
what you find is that they don't talk about empathy
link |
01:38:12.300
as a general term, they will talk about emotional empathy.
link |
01:38:16.620
They'll talk about cognitive empathy.
link |
01:38:18.260
And what I'm talking about here today
link |
01:38:19.900
is that you had a third category
link |
01:38:21.580
that is very strongly determinant of relationship dynamics,
link |
01:38:25.780
and that's autonomic empathy.
link |
01:38:27.940
I'm a biologist, I'm not a psychologist,
link |
01:38:30.580
so I love mechanism.
link |
01:38:32.300
And fortunately, there are studies
link |
01:38:34.620
that have been done recently using modern techniques
link |
01:38:37.820
to look at neural mechanisms of romantic attachment.
link |
01:38:41.600
I mentioned earlier some of the brain imaging studies
link |
01:38:44.760
that have been done on child and mother,
link |
01:38:48.380
literally imaging the activity of neurons in the brain
link |
01:38:51.220
as child is nursing or as a mother is soothing baby.
link |
01:38:54.960
And as you learned earlier, baby is soothing mother as well.
link |
01:38:59.260
Those are remarkable studies.
link |
01:39:00.400
You may have seen some of these pictures online.
link |
01:39:02.080
You can see the kind of silhouette of the infant and mother
link |
01:39:04.500
and their brains and even some of the brain
link |
01:39:06.820
activation patterns, really, really beautiful studies.
link |
01:39:09.580
Similar studies have been done in romantic couples
link |
01:39:13.880
with those couples either touching one another,
link |
01:39:17.140
touching and kissing, or in kind of clever,
link |
01:39:20.360
I think, control experiments of the person
link |
01:39:22.520
just touching a pillow or something,
link |
01:39:24.620
or kissing a pillow in order to try and create
link |
01:39:27.820
the most reasonable control
link |
01:39:30.460
for what are actually pretty complicated
link |
01:39:32.700
interpersonal dynamics to do in a brain imaging scanner.
link |
01:39:36.740
But some of the other studies
link |
01:39:39.140
that have been done recently involved so-called EEG.
link |
01:39:41.540
So these are electrical recordings
link |
01:39:42.920
that are done noninvasively,
link |
01:39:44.900
putting a bunch of electrodes on the outside of the scalp.
link |
01:39:47.540
EEG is useful in that you can do it noninvasively.
link |
01:39:52.300
You can do it while people are moving and doing things,
link |
01:39:56.340
kissing, touching, et cetera.
link |
01:39:58.800
It doesn't allow one to image or to evaluate
link |
01:40:02.220
neural activity very deeply in the brain.
link |
01:40:04.600
So you can miss out on a lot of things.
link |
01:40:06.360
It's sort of like looking at the wave structure on the ocean
link |
01:40:08.900
without actually looking into the depths of the ocean.
link |
01:40:12.280
So you can miss certain things, but if you see things,
link |
01:40:14.980
generally you trust they are there,
link |
01:40:16.980
but you can't see what you don't see.
link |
01:40:18.620
Nonetheless, there's some studies
link |
01:40:21.060
that I'll just point you to,
link |
01:40:22.940
and that form the segue
link |
01:40:24.660
for what I'm going to discuss in a moment,
link |
01:40:27.380
which is a study published in Scientific Reports in 2021,
link |
01:40:33.020
entitled Investigating Real-Life Emotions
link |
01:40:35.260
in Romantic Couples, a Mobile EEG Study.
link |
01:40:37.940
So this is, as the title suggests,
link |
01:40:41.220
I think people wear these EEG caps of electrodes,
link |
01:40:44.800
get engaged in very passionate emotional kisses,
link |
01:40:48.900
emotional speech toward one another,
link |
01:40:50.520
standing at different distances.
link |
01:40:51.680
So a lot of cool stuff that you can do
link |
01:40:53.560
that you really couldn't do in a brain scanner,
link |
01:40:55.840
because in a brain scanner,
link |
01:40:56.820
people have to be there usually in a bite bar.
link |
01:40:58.920
They're actually draw hooks like this.
link |
01:41:00.380
I've been in one of these things.
link |
01:41:02.380
There's not a lot of moving around to be had,
link |
01:41:04.300
at least not using the current technology.
link |
01:41:07.340
In any case, what they found was
link |
01:41:09.480
there is a shift in brain waves, brain states,
link |
01:41:14.200
things like alpha waves,
link |
01:41:15.460
which is a particular frequency of brain waves
link |
01:41:17.300
in the neocortex, the kind of outer shell of the brain
link |
01:41:20.060
just beneath the skull.
link |
01:41:22.160
And in people that are kissing
link |
01:41:25.600
or in people that are engaged in romantic speech,
link |
01:41:27.700
or I didn't actually hear what they said to one another,
link |
01:41:31.740
but what the couple seems exciting,
link |
01:41:34.500
romantic, and arousing to them,
link |
01:41:36.740
they see more alpha wave activity
link |
01:41:38.640
compared to the control conditions.
link |
01:41:40.260
And there was some, what we call lateralization,
link |
01:41:42.660
where the left hemisphere was more active than the right
link |
01:41:44.720
and so forth.
link |
01:41:46.760
And these studies are important
link |
01:41:48.820
because we know that the autonomic nervous systems
link |
01:41:52.260
of individuals tend to start to collaborate
link |
01:41:56.060
and actually synchronize at the level of heartbeats,
link |
01:41:59.300
at the level of breathing
link |
01:42:01.220
during romantic interactions of different kinds.
link |
01:42:03.540
But these studies are some of the first of their kind
link |
01:42:05.940
to start looking at neural synchronization
link |
01:42:08.140
between individuals.
link |
01:42:09.900
Now, the simple version of looking at this
link |
01:42:14.220
and the way I would have thought this would all go was,
link |
01:42:17.180
okay, two people start kissing,
link |
01:42:18.740
they start talking about what they find
link |
01:42:20.540
particularly romantic and arousing for them,
link |
01:42:22.380
and their brainwaves will just match to one another.
link |
01:42:24.780
And that's really the basis of romantic attachment
link |
01:42:28.560
and romantic engagement in that sort of thing.
link |
01:42:32.260
But it turns out that the opposite is true.
link |
01:42:36.300
So a really nice study published in a really fine journal,
link |
01:42:40.820
Cerebral Cortex is a journal
link |
01:42:42.160
that I've known about for many years.
link |
01:42:43.620
They published Strong Anatomy, Physiology, and Neuroimaging.
link |
01:42:46.740
There's a study that was published,
link |
01:42:48.940
first author Kajimura in, and this paper really points,
link |
01:42:54.540
again, this is 2021.
link |
01:42:56.940
And the title of this paper is,
link |
01:42:58.680
brain knows who is on the same wavelength.
link |
01:43:01.060
Resting state connectivity can predict compatibility
link |
01:43:04.020
of female-male relationship.
link |
01:43:06.380
Now, what this study did was a little bit different.
link |
01:43:08.820
They looked at the resting
link |
01:43:10.100
or default mode activity of the brain.
link |
01:43:12.860
So rather than evoked activity, as it's called,
link |
01:43:15.860
where people are kissing or are engaged
link |
01:43:18.100
in some sort of activity, this was a neuroimaging study,
link |
01:43:22.100
not EEG, but FMRI, functional magnetic resonance imaging,
link |
01:43:25.780
which is similar to EEG in principle,
link |
01:43:29.160
but allows you to look deep into the brain.
link |
01:43:31.360
And it has a very good resolution in time and space.
link |
01:43:35.460
So fast events can be monitored,
link |
01:43:37.780
and the precise location of those events can be monitored
link |
01:43:42.100
somewhat better than EEG.
link |
01:43:43.700
There are exceptions to this.
link |
01:43:44.740
So for you EEGers out there, EEG,
link |
01:43:47.700
don't come after me with electrodes.
link |
01:43:50.340
Just understand that FMRI gives you a fuller picture
link |
01:43:54.180
of what's going on.
link |
01:43:55.100
And what Kajimura at all found was that contrary
link |
01:43:59.500
to what your reflexive prediction might be,
link |
01:44:04.980
people tend to select people that have resting brain states
link |
01:44:10.060
that are different than theirs,
link |
01:44:11.940
or sometimes they found that are actually opposite
link |
01:44:15.180
to their own resting brain state.
link |
01:44:17.260
And you might say, well, that doesn't make any sense.
link |
01:44:19.300
I thought this is all about autonomic coordination.
link |
01:44:22.240
But actually, if we go back to Helen Fisher's
link |
01:44:24.820
categorizations of the dopamine types,
link |
01:44:27.280
the sensation-seeking types, that is serotonin,
link |
01:44:30.420
the kind of stable rule-following types,
link |
01:44:33.180
testosterone and estrogen types,
link |
01:44:34.480
remember that the two categories that she called
link |
01:44:36.860
testosterone and estrogen type,
link |
01:44:38.140
the director and the follower, the nurturer,
link |
01:44:40.700
I guess it would be the more accurate way,
link |
01:44:42.140
the director and the nurturer,
link |
01:44:43.900
those tend to pair up across categories,
link |
01:44:46.720
not within category.
link |
01:44:48.420
And so I think what's really needed for this field,
link |
01:44:51.420
which to my knowledge hasn't happened yet,
link |
01:44:53.660
is to really start to map the neuroanatomical
link |
01:44:57.980
and neurophysiological findings of,
link |
01:45:00.500
in this case, that resting brain state
link |
01:45:03.460
is in one form in one individual,
link |
01:45:06.740
and they tend to seek out people whose resting brain state
link |
01:45:09.260
is different than theirs, not similar,
link |
01:45:11.880
that needs to be mapped onto the more subjective
link |
01:45:15.500
psychological categorizations that Helen Fisher
link |
01:45:19.320
and indeed the Gottman's and others have created.
link |
01:45:21.980
That's sort of the state of the field now.
link |
01:45:24.020
And I mentioned this, not to confuse you,
link |
01:45:26.380
but to the contrary, to illustrate that it's not just
link |
01:45:30.020
about finding someone just like you.
link |
01:45:32.060
And it's not just about finding someone
link |
01:45:34.400
who's opposite to you.
link |
01:45:35.860
This is actually the reason that I decided to become
link |
01:45:38.020
a biologist at some point in my life,
link |
01:45:40.260
which is that we can find verbal sayings and stories
link |
01:45:43.900
and examples to support just about anything.
link |
01:45:46.880
It's, this is not a knock on the field of psychology,
link |
01:45:49.140
as you can probably tell from today's episode,
link |
01:45:50.820
I have great respect for and reverence
link |
01:45:52.560
for the field of psychology,
link |
01:45:53.660
especially its collaboration with neuroscience
link |
01:45:56.700
and vice versa.
link |
01:45:58.060
But in the popular culture, we can find examples
link |
01:46:02.040
and sayings that support essentially anything
link |
01:46:04.460
as it relates to a relationship.
link |
01:46:06.380
For instance, I've heard, and you've probably heard,
link |
01:46:08.860
absence makes the heart grow fonder.
link |
01:46:10.860
And indeed I've experienced that and I believe it's true,
link |
01:46:13.940
but I also have experienced and I believe to be true
link |
01:46:16.380
that out of sight, out of mind also exists
link |
01:46:18.800
and that there will be a biological mechanism for that.
link |
01:46:21.660
The point here is that matching of same to same
link |
01:46:24.760
or same to different can both be effective
link |
01:46:27.260
in creating the desire, love attachment process.
link |
01:46:32.820
It's a matter of who is looking for same
link |
01:46:36.140
and who is looking for different.
link |
01:46:37.380
And there, I think Dr. Fisher and the work
link |
01:46:40.120
of these neurophysiologists and brain imagers
link |
01:46:42.700
really does point in a direction whereby
link |
01:46:45.220
there is not one form of attachment
link |
01:46:48.920
that is going to be wholly above all else
link |
01:46:51.060
and will predict good outcomes.
link |
01:46:53.080
There is not going to be a case in which opposites attract
link |
01:46:56.500
and that's always the best rule to follow.
link |
01:46:58.820
Sometimes it will, sometimes it won't.
link |
01:47:01.280
There is also not the case that people tend to pair up
link |
01:47:03.900
with similar.
link |
01:47:05.300
Sometimes it will be the case, sometimes it won't.
link |
01:47:08.100
Now, there are certain statistics
link |
01:47:10.040
that support that statement.
link |
01:47:11.300
For instance, people on average,
link |
01:47:13.660
people pair up with individuals
link |
01:47:15.820
of similar educational background, income and attractiveness.
link |
01:47:19.140
That is true on average, but it's not always the case.
link |
01:47:22.380
And again, a knowledge of and a respect
link |
01:47:25.140
for the different categorizations of attachment,
link |
01:47:27.740
the different categorizations of mate seeking
link |
01:47:30.140
described by Fisher and others,
link |
01:47:31.580
and the recognition that matching
link |
01:47:33.540
of autonomic nervous systems, but also mismatching
link |
01:47:36.540
of resting state brain networks are all at play
link |
01:47:39.900
in driving what we are calling desire, love and attachment.
link |
01:47:43.460
So in keeping with the exploration of the fact
link |
01:47:45.480
that there's a saying or a book or a song or an example
link |
01:47:49.260
of pretty much any relationship dynamic,
link |
01:47:52.280
I want to now talk about an article that came out
link |
01:47:55.200
a little over 10 years ago that talked about
link |
01:47:58.660
the universality of love and the ability to fall in love.
link |
01:48:02.800
So this would be very much in line
link |
01:48:04.120
with the George Bernard Shaw quote that I mentioned earlier,
link |
01:48:06.580
that love is really overestimating
link |
01:48:09.100
the differences between individuals.
link |
01:48:10.620
And again, I should say that is not something
link |
01:48:12.020
that I personally believe,
link |
01:48:13.680
although maybe I'm just deluding myself.
link |
01:48:15.600
I like to think that the people that we fall in love with
link |
01:48:20.060
are really special for us,
link |
01:48:21.940
that they could not easily be replaced with anybody else.
link |
01:48:25.580
That's simply my stance.
link |
01:48:26.940
I'm not basing that on any hardcore
link |
01:48:29.260
neuro-biological mechanism,
link |
01:48:31.580
but nonetheless,
link |
01:48:34.220
an article was published in the New York Times in 2015
link |
01:48:37.620
that related to some psychological studies that were done
link |
01:48:42.380
as well as some clinical work,
link |
01:48:43.620
as well as some what I would call pop psychology
link |
01:48:47.460
or things that fall outside the domains of academic science.
link |
01:48:50.700
And the whole basis of this article
link |
01:48:54.720
was 36 questions that lead to love.
link |
01:48:58.940
And it involved a listing out indeed of 36 questions,
link |
01:49:02.900
a set divided into set one, set two, and set three
link |
01:49:06.020
that progress from somewhat ordinary questions
link |
01:49:09.880
about life experience and self-report to more,
link |
01:49:14.600
let's call them deep questions about people's values
link |
01:49:18.120
and things that are emotionally close to them.
link |
01:49:20.200
And I'll just give an example of a few of these.
link |
01:49:21.940
You can find this easily online
link |
01:49:23.280
by just putting into your search engine,
link |
01:49:25.700
36 questions that lead to love.
link |
01:49:27.940
Some of the questions in set number one were, for instance,
link |
01:49:31.700
what would constitute a perfect day for you?
link |
01:49:35.360
For what in your life do you feel most grateful,
link |
01:49:37.100
kind of standard questionnaire stuff.
link |
01:49:38.660
In set two, what is your most treasured memory?
link |
01:49:41.940
What is your most terrible memory?
link |
01:49:43.380
So these are, as you can tell,
link |
01:49:44.860
are drilling a little bit deeper
link |
01:49:45.980
into one's personal experience and emotional system.
link |
01:49:49.260
And then set three, questions 25 through 36,
link |
01:49:54.260
are things, what is a very embarrassing moment in your life?
link |
01:50:00.260
When did you last cry in front of another person
link |
01:50:03.260
and by yourself?
link |
01:50:04.940
What is something that's too serious to be joked about?
link |
01:50:07.060
So it's going deeper into one's emotional system.
link |
01:50:10.980
And even questions like of all the people in your family,
link |
01:50:13.760
whose death would you find most disturbing and why?
link |
01:50:16.660
So pretty heavy stuff there at the end.
link |
01:50:19.140
Now, the reason this article got so much traction
link |
01:50:21.720
and the reason I'm bringing it up today
link |
01:50:22.940
is that there was a statement
link |
01:50:26.220
that was made in and around this article,
link |
01:50:28.140
that if two people went on a date
link |
01:50:32.380
or simply sat down and asked each other these questions
link |
01:50:36.460
and each answered these questions
link |
01:50:39.420
and the other was paying attention carefully
link |
01:50:43.200
and at some level, emotionally responding or not responding,
link |
01:50:48.080
but certainly paying attention
link |
01:50:49.240
to the answers of the other person,
link |
01:50:51.140
that by the end of that exchange
link |
01:50:53.980
where one person asks 36 questions
link |
01:50:56.740
and the other person answers all 36,
link |
01:50:58.560
and then the other person asks all 36
link |
01:51:01.260
and the other person answers all 36,
link |
01:51:03.340
that they would fall in love, right?
link |
01:51:05.620
Which seems like kind of a ridiculous thing.
link |
01:51:08.140
And yet it is the case
link |
01:51:10.820
that people who go through this exercise
link |
01:51:13.900
report feeling as if they know the other person quite well
link |
01:51:17.620
and feeling certain levels of attachment
link |
01:51:21.260
or even love and desire for the other person
link |
01:51:23.780
that they would not have predicted, excuse me,
link |
01:51:27.180
would not have predicted
link |
01:51:29.200
had they not gone through that process.
link |
01:51:31.180
So what's going on in this exchange of questions
link |
01:51:33.100
and answers of a progressively more emotional
link |
01:51:36.640
and deep level?
link |
01:51:38.540
Well, what I predict is going on
link |
01:51:40.020
is that inside of that exchange,
link |
01:51:43.060
people are creating a sort of delusional story
link |
01:51:46.100
about the nature of the exchange
link |
01:51:48.180
being a reflection of some deeper attachment.
link |
01:51:51.260
And so even though people are just exchanging words,
link |
01:51:53.960
they're not physically touching,
link |
01:51:56.540
they are not, at least not at the point
link |
01:51:58.220
where they're running these kinds of questionnaire studies,
link |
01:52:03.480
they may touch afterwards for all I know
link |
01:52:05.380
and probably did in some cases,
link |
01:52:07.320
but they're not exchanging life experience
link |
01:52:09.740
in an immediate way.
link |
01:52:11.300
They're not actually going off into the world
link |
01:52:13.100
and doing things together yet.
link |
01:52:15.020
They are simply exchanging narrative.
link |
01:52:17.800
But we know based on recent studies,
link |
01:52:21.220
and I've covered this before on this podcast,
link |
01:52:23.460
but I'll mention again,
link |
01:52:24.280
there was a study published in Cell Reports,
link |
01:52:27.220
a cell press journal, excellent journal,
link |
01:52:29.360
showing that when individuals listen to the same narrative,
link |
01:52:33.900
their heart rates tend to synchronize
link |
01:52:35.560
or at least follow a very similar pattern
link |
01:52:37.780
even if they're not in the same room
link |
01:52:39.500
listening to a given narrative.
link |
01:52:41.100
Whereas in this case, people are facing one another
link |
01:52:44.180
listening to the narratives of each other,
link |
01:52:46.660
certainly they are having autonomic responses,
link |
01:52:49.920
and it stands to reason
link |
01:52:51.500
that their autonomic nervous systems are synchronizing
link |
01:52:54.140
much in the same way that the Cell Reports study found
link |
01:52:56.660
that people will synchronize their autonomic nervous systems
link |
01:52:59.880
to a shared heard story from another.
link |
01:53:03.800
In other words, whether or not we hear a story,
link |
01:53:06.260
watch a movie, listen to a song,
link |
01:53:08.460
or exchange our own individual stories,
link |
01:53:11.300
our autonomic nervous systems have the potential
link |
01:53:13.560
to map onto one another.
link |
01:53:15.000
So I'm not all that surprised
link |
01:53:17.140
that people find that they fall in love, in quotes,
link |
01:53:21.820
after answering these questions to one another,
link |
01:53:24.180
because essentially the way these questions are laid out
link |
01:53:26.820
is they establish a narrative,
link |
01:53:28.940
they establish a very personal narrative,
link |
01:53:30.900
and the other person is listening very closely,
link |
01:53:32.800
and we don't have physiological or brain imaging studies
link |
01:53:35.940
to support what I'm about to say,
link |
01:53:38.640
but the reasonable interpretation
link |
01:53:41.580
is that that's causing some sort of autonomic synchronization.
link |
01:53:45.420
So if you want to try this on a date,
link |
01:53:47.460
or even it's actually been hypothesized
link |
01:53:50.340
that this could be useful for existing couples,
link |
01:53:53.580
even if they already know the answers
link |
01:53:54.940
to some of these questions,
link |
01:53:55.940
and that doesn't surprise me either.
link |
01:53:57.740
I think that autonomic coordination is present
link |
01:53:59.820
during mating behavior,
link |
01:54:02.380
it's present during shared experience of the outside world,
link |
01:54:05.880
movies, concerts, watching one's children
link |
01:54:08.760
with somebody else, et cetera,
link |
01:54:10.340
and it's established by sharing one's own narrative
link |
01:54:13.400
of their own personal experience.
link |
01:54:15.140
So I don't want to seem overly reductionist,
link |
01:54:17.380
I'll never propose that all of our sensation, perception,
link |
01:54:21.500
action, and experience in life boils down
link |
01:54:23.500
to us just being bags of chemicals
link |
01:54:26.300
and the action of those chemicals
link |
01:54:28.020
or any aspect of our nervous system,
link |
01:54:29.620
and yet in looking across the psychological literature
link |
01:54:34.540
of development of attachment,
link |
01:54:36.140
in the psychological literature
link |
01:54:37.820
of adult and romantic attachment,
link |
01:54:40.060
and what makes and breaks those attachments,
link |
01:54:43.380
it's very clear to me,
link |
01:54:44.940
and I think courses through the literature
link |
01:54:47.060
at multiple levels,
link |
01:54:48.380
that autonomic coordination is absolutely key
link |
01:54:52.360
for the establishment of desire, love, and attachment.
link |
01:54:55.620
In fact, I talked earlier about how our actual conception
link |
01:54:58.540
is born out of autonomic coordination
link |
01:55:00.820
of one sort or another.
link |
01:55:02.540
So again, it doesn't necessarily mean
link |
01:55:05.580
that autonomic nervous systems always be synchronized.
link |
01:55:08.600
In the case of the two categorizations
link |
01:55:10.340
that Fisher proposed of the director slash testosterone type
link |
01:55:14.340
and the nurturing follower slash estrogen type,
link |
01:55:20.180
it was actually the coordination,
link |
01:55:22.460
but in opposite directions of individuals
link |
01:55:25.920
that fall into each of those categories
link |
01:55:27.300
that led to more stable attachments
link |
01:55:29.000
or the seeking out of those attachments, I should say.
link |
01:55:31.800
But nonetheless, it's, at least to my mind,
link |
01:55:34.580
very clear that autonomic coordination
link |
01:55:37.140
is a hallmark feature of desire,
link |
01:55:41.420
a hallmark feature of what we call love,
link |
01:55:44.200
and a hallmark feature of what we call attachment.
link |
01:55:47.060
And that the breaking of attachments
link |
01:55:49.500
or the failures of desire, the failures of love,
link |
01:55:53.920
and the failures of attachment over time
link |
01:55:56.700
in line with the work of Gottman and others,
link |
01:55:58.620
and even just simply what's required for mating behavior
link |
01:56:02.520
is also reflected in the autonomic nervous system.
link |
01:56:05.660
But in that case, a failure
link |
01:56:07.260
to coordinate the autonomic nervous systems
link |
01:56:09.020
in some sort of concerted way.
link |
01:56:11.340
Any discussion about desire, love,
link |
01:56:13.220
and attachment would be incomplete
link |
01:56:15.900
if we didn't talk about the dreaded infidelity and cheating.
link |
01:56:20.380
Much has been made of infidelity and cheating
link |
01:56:22.340
and whether or not people who are higher on dopamine
link |
01:56:24.740
and sensation seeking tend to cheat more or less.
link |
01:56:27.380
Frankly, I don't think there's any solid evidence for that.
link |
01:56:31.720
I think there are a lot of examples
link |
01:56:33.060
that we can draw from in our own lives
link |
01:56:34.780
and in the lives of others
link |
01:56:36.780
that would generally support one or the other model,
link |
01:56:39.560
but I'm not aware of any decent physiological studies
link |
01:56:43.380
or psychological studies that really point to that.
link |
01:56:46.240
For instance, I would never say
link |
01:56:48.380
that the serotonergic phenotype as described by Fisher
link |
01:56:52.780
is less prone to cheat,
link |
01:56:54.760
or that the people who have an insecure attachment
link |
01:56:58.600
are more likely to cheat, for instance.
link |
01:57:01.980
I don't think those correlations have been drawn
link |
01:57:04.420
in any kind of meaningful way yet,
link |
01:57:05.860
so I would be cautious about assigning them
link |
01:57:09.300
without that evidence.
link |
01:57:11.380
However, there are some interesting studies involving,
link |
01:57:14.600
again, neuroimaging and some subjective measures in humans,
link |
01:57:18.860
meaning asking them questions
link |
01:57:20.300
that they're good ways to tease out lies from truths
link |
01:57:23.780
in these sorts of studies,
link |
01:57:25.500
and whether or not people tend to find their partner
link |
01:57:30.280
or others more or less attractive
link |
01:57:33.460
depending on how people feel about themselves.
link |
01:57:36.780
And I think this is a very interesting aspect
link |
01:57:39.420
to desire, love, and attachment for the following reason.
link |
01:57:43.880
You hear a lot out there
link |
01:57:45.740
that in order to form a really strong relationship,
link |
01:57:49.900
you have to have a good relationship with yourself,
link |
01:57:52.140
or you have to love yourself,
link |
01:57:54.380
or you often hear, for instance,
link |
01:57:57.400
that it's exactly when you're not looking for a relationship
link |
01:58:01.160
that you're going to find one.
link |
01:58:02.000
You hear this stuff, right?
link |
01:58:03.380
But none of that is really grounded in any studies.
link |
01:58:05.760
Again, that's like out of sight, out of mind,
link |
01:58:07.480
or absence makes the heart grow fonder.
link |
01:58:09.340
There are many life examples to support those statements,
link |
01:58:13.460
and there are many life examples
link |
01:58:15.380
to support statements to the opposite.
link |
01:58:19.020
There's a particular study that I found,
link |
01:58:21.660
this was published in Frontiers in Psychology,
link |
01:58:23.900
but it's a experimental study that involves neuroimaging.
link |
01:58:27.980
The title of this study is manipulation of self-expansion
link |
01:58:31.740
alters responses to attractive alternative partners.
link |
01:58:35.460
And I love the design of this study.
link |
01:58:37.140
What they did in this study is they took couples
link |
01:58:40.500
and they evaluated members of that relationship
link |
01:58:44.540
for what's called self-expansion.
link |
01:58:46.480
Now, self-expansion is a metric
link |
01:58:48.740
that involves one's perception of self
link |
01:58:53.340
as seen through the relationship to the other.
link |
01:58:56.800
And this is something that was developed by the authors
link |
01:59:01.060
are Aaron and Aaron, so they have the same last name.
link |
01:59:03.440
So I'm assuming this was either a sibling team
link |
01:59:05.900
or a somehow related team or a romantic couple team,
link |
01:59:10.180
A-R-O-N and A-R-O-N.
link |
01:59:13.220
Aaron and Aaron in 1986 proposed this self-expansion model
link |
01:59:17.440
of close relationships.
link |
01:59:18.660
And they proposed that people are motivated
link |
01:59:20.580
to enter relationships, I'm reading here,
link |
01:59:22.520
in order to enhance the self and increase self-efficacy.
link |
01:59:25.780
In other words, that one of the reasons
link |
01:59:27.940
why many people enter relationships
link |
01:59:29.860
is that it makes us feel good about ourselves
link |
01:59:31.680
and more capable.
link |
01:59:32.520
And I would see that as a healthy interdependence,
link |
01:59:34.860
not necessarily co-dependence.
link |
01:59:38.340
This is especially strong at the beginning of a relationship,
link |
01:59:41.000
it turns out, when people are forming pair bonds.
link |
01:59:43.660
And it's the case that pleasure, arousal, and excitement,
link |
01:59:48.300
again, all hallmark features
link |
01:59:50.660
of autonomic nervous system function,
link |
01:59:52.460
pleasure, arousal, and excitement,
link |
01:59:55.380
give rise to self-expansion, meaning to self-efficacy.
link |
01:59:59.100
So what this self-expansion model is really about
link |
02:00:02.240
is how great other people that we are close to
link |
02:00:05.460
and romantically attached to can potentially make us feel
link |
02:00:09.420
in terms of what they say, in terms of what they do,
link |
02:00:12.700
in terms of the way in which we believe they feel about us.
link |
02:00:18.120
So it doesn't necessarily have to involve
link |
02:00:20.300
explicit statements of them telling us how great we are
link |
02:00:24.040
or them doing great gestures for us,
link |
02:00:27.060
but how we actually feel they feel about us,
link |
02:00:30.240
turns out to be a very strong parameter
link |
02:00:32.400
in terms of how we feel about ourselves
link |
02:00:33.900
and the relationship overall.
link |
02:00:36.220
Now, some of you out there are probably thinking,
link |
02:00:37.740
oh yeah, isn't there this thing, the love languages, right?
link |
02:00:40.800
I don't have any neuroscience to support that.
link |
02:00:42.540
I think the love languages,
link |
02:00:43.620
I'm not super familiar with this, I didn't list it out,
link |
02:00:45.820
but that some people are,
link |
02:00:49.260
their autonomic nervous system, if you will,
link |
02:00:52.060
tends to be very responsive to gifts or to quality time
link |
02:00:56.420
or to physical touch or acts of kindness.
link |
02:00:58.180
I think I've got a few of these, right?
link |
02:00:59.280
I probably have a few wrong.
link |
02:01:00.240
Anyway, they're easy to find online.
link |
02:01:01.820
And people do tend to have a kind of a bias
link |
02:01:04.460
toward two or three of these things
link |
02:01:05.900
that are especially meaningful for them.
link |
02:01:07.860
And when I hear meaningful,
link |
02:01:09.060
I hear they tend to push the autonomic nervous system
link |
02:01:11.860
and neurochemical systems of the brain and body
link |
02:01:13.820
in a direction that makes us feel good
link |
02:01:15.500
as opposed to lousy or neutral.
link |
02:01:18.020
In any event, this study looked at
link |
02:01:21.500
whether or not people have high levels of self-expansion
link |
02:01:26.340
through the actions or statements of their significant other
link |
02:01:30.340
and how that influences their perception of people
link |
02:01:34.820
outside the relationship,
link |
02:01:36.220
meaning how attractive they perceive people
link |
02:01:38.940
outside the relationship to be,
link |
02:01:40.840
turns out to be strongly influenced by A,
link |
02:01:44.820
whether or not their self-expansion
link |
02:01:47.860
is very strongly driven by the other person
link |
02:01:51.600
that they are involved with,
link |
02:01:53.260
that they're in the romantic relationship with,
link |
02:01:55.420
and whether or not that's being expressed to them.
link |
02:01:57.560
So here's how the study went.
link |
02:01:59.940
First of all, they rated or categorized individuals
link |
02:02:03.860
on the basis of the self-expansion metric.
link |
02:02:06.140
Some people have more of a potential
link |
02:02:08.700
to experience self-expansion through others, right?
link |
02:02:11.800
Some of us feel great about ourselves
link |
02:02:13.700
and we're kind of topped off at that.
link |
02:02:15.420
Others don't feel so great about themselves,
link |
02:02:17.840
but they can feel much better in response to praise,
link |
02:02:20.340
in particular praise or self-expansion type behaviors
link |
02:02:23.820
or statements from people that we really care about.
link |
02:02:25.820
And still other people are a mixture of the two,
link |
02:02:28.180
the kind of moderate levels of both.
link |
02:02:30.340
So they rated them on this scale.
link |
02:02:32.340
And then they had people experience
link |
02:02:34.900
self-expansion narratives.
link |
02:02:37.220
They heard their significant other
link |
02:02:38.540
say really terrific things about them
link |
02:02:40.840
and about the relationship in particular,
link |
02:02:42.820
that the relationship that they have was exciting,
link |
02:02:46.020
novel, and challenging.
link |
02:02:47.340
So that was one form of self-expansion.
link |
02:02:49.060
And they went into some detail
link |
02:02:50.420
as to why that was the case
link |
02:02:51.560
in their particular relationship.
link |
02:02:53.340
Or they heard a narrative from their significant other
link |
02:02:57.860
about strong feelings of love between the two
link |
02:03:02.180
that had been experienced previously in the relationship.
link |
02:03:04.600
So in the one case, it sort of directed more towards them.
link |
02:03:07.620
And in the other case,
link |
02:03:08.460
it's more about the relationship itself.
link |
02:03:10.580
And then they did brain imaging
link |
02:03:12.820
of one person in the relationship,
link |
02:03:15.680
while that person assessed the attractiveness
link |
02:03:18.640
of people outside the relationship.
link |
02:03:21.140
And what they found was that people who were primed
link |
02:03:23.860
for this self-expansion had lower activation
link |
02:03:28.680
of brain areas associated
link |
02:03:30.220
with assessing other's attractiveness,
link |
02:03:32.560
then did the people who experienced a lot of self-expansion.
link |
02:03:36.620
Now, the takeaway from that,
link |
02:03:38.860
at least the way I read this study,
link |
02:03:40.480
is if you're with somebody who really benefits from
link |
02:03:44.740
or experiences a lot of self-expansion,
link |
02:03:48.700
unless you really want them to pay attention
link |
02:03:50.500
to the attractiveness of other people,
link |
02:03:52.680
it stands to reason that they would benefit
link |
02:03:56.340
from more self-expansion type gestures or statements.
link |
02:04:01.180
Not so much centered on the relationship.
link |
02:04:03.260
We have such a great relationship.
link |
02:04:04.580
There's so much love, it's so great, that too.
link |
02:04:07.020
But in the context of this study and these findings,
link |
02:04:09.660
that the person is really terrific,
link |
02:04:12.180
that the relationship that they've created together
link |
02:04:14.040
is really exciting, novel, and challenging,
link |
02:04:16.340
that there's a narrative around the relationship
link |
02:04:18.620
that really has a lot to do with the dynamics
link |
02:04:21.120
between the individuals,
link |
02:04:22.060
in particular, that the person who really likes
link |
02:04:24.660
self-expansion is vital to that dynamic, okay?
link |
02:04:27.180
So it's not looking down at the relationship
link |
02:04:28.840
as a set of equals.
link |
02:04:30.100
There is sort of this bias written into this,
link |
02:04:32.020
of that this person is really essential
link |
02:04:34.000
for the relationship.
link |
02:04:34.980
I'm not saying this is something that anyone has to do.
link |
02:04:36.740
I'm not saying this is right or wrong.
link |
02:04:38.060
This is just what the data say.
link |
02:04:40.120
But what's remarkable is that
link |
02:04:42.260
in the absence of those statements,
link |
02:04:44.320
people who have, or that rate high on this scale
link |
02:04:49.460
of self-expansion rate attractive alternative partners
link |
02:04:52.880
as more attractive.
link |
02:04:54.460
Now, that's interesting to me because it means
link |
02:04:57.120
that their actual perception of others is changing.
link |
02:05:00.860
It's not that their opportunity to see others is changing.
link |
02:05:04.900
This is not a matter of them somehow getting access
link |
02:05:08.380
or no access to attractive alternative partners.
link |
02:05:11.140
Again, attractive alternative partner
link |
02:05:12.440
is literally the language in the title of this paper.
link |
02:05:14.940
They're still seeing all these attractive people.
link |
02:05:17.140
It's just that if they're feeling filled up in air quotes,
link |
02:05:21.460
psychologically filled up, emotionally filled up,
link |
02:05:24.500
autonomically filled, enhanced in the language
link |
02:05:28.420
that we're using today by the self-expansion narrative,
link |
02:05:31.480
well then the same set of attractive faces
link |
02:05:34.740
appear less attractive to a given individual.
link |
02:05:38.460
Now, whether or not this predicts cheating or loyalty,
link |
02:05:41.460
I certainly can't say.
link |
02:05:42.980
That would be very hard to assess in neuroimaging.
link |
02:05:45.760
And there, of course, people rarely,
link |
02:05:49.900
if ever report accurately their cheating behavior.
link |
02:05:53.200
There are some studies in which confidentiality is assured
link |
02:05:56.200
to the point where people seem to be more trusting
link |
02:05:59.180
and willing to reveal cheating behavior.
link |
02:06:01.780
But if you look at the statistics on cheating behavior,
link |
02:06:03.560
it's very hard to track because people lie all the time
link |
02:06:07.100
about their cheating in and outside of the context
link |
02:06:09.220
of psychological and neuroimaging studies.
link |
02:06:12.560
But I find this study, again,
link |
02:06:14.900
the title Manipulation of Self-Expansion
link |
02:06:16.700
alters responses to attractive alternative partners
link |
02:06:19.140
to be absolutely fascinating because again,
link |
02:06:21.940
it points to the fact that the interactions
link |
02:06:25.540
with our significant others shapes our autonomic arousal,
link |
02:06:29.380
shapes our perception of self,
link |
02:06:31.540
and thereby shapes our perception
link |
02:06:34.000
of other potential partners in the outside world
link |
02:06:36.740
or shuts us down to the potential of other people
link |
02:06:40.100
in the outside world.
link |
02:06:41.460
So when I hear statements such as,
link |
02:06:43.020
it's important that you love yourself
link |
02:06:44.620
in order to really fall in love with somebody else,
link |
02:06:47.180
or it is when one is not looking for a relationship
link |
02:06:51.300
that they're most likely to fall in love
link |
02:06:53.060
and form a stable relationship,
link |
02:06:56.240
I can filter that through these findings
link |
02:06:58.060
to say that it's really the person
link |
02:07:01.460
who needs a lot of self-expansion stimulating statements
link |
02:07:06.460
or actions coming from other people
link |
02:07:09.120
that is most prone to seeing other potential partners
link |
02:07:13.760
out in the world as attractive.
link |
02:07:15.720
And in this sense, we can return
link |
02:07:18.360
to the autonomic nervous system as kind of a glass
link |
02:07:22.080
that it can be filled up through various contexts.
link |
02:07:24.480
It can be filled up through our own ability to regulate it.
link |
02:07:27.240
It can be filled up through other people's ability
link |
02:07:30.600
to enhance our sense of wellbeing.
link |
02:07:32.820
And in some sense, this points to an idea
link |
02:07:35.500
where it is true that the better
link |
02:07:37.680
that we can feel about ourselves
link |
02:07:39.040
in the absence of any self-expansion type input
link |
02:07:43.520
from somebody else really does place us
link |
02:07:45.620
on more stable ground such that when we do receive
link |
02:07:48.140
that praise or we do receive those acts of kindness
link |
02:07:50.500
or service or physical touch or whatever they are,
link |
02:07:53.240
that we are able to further enhance the way that we feel,
link |
02:07:58.720
but that we don't necessarily tether all of our feelings
link |
02:08:02.120
of self-worth or self-expansion to that one individual.
link |
02:08:06.640
So you might think that if person A can only receive
link |
02:08:10.200
the self-expansion from the statements,
link |
02:08:13.560
from the action of the person they're involved with,
link |
02:08:15.740
person B, that that will form a very stable bond.
link |
02:08:19.600
But what this study points to is the fact
link |
02:08:21.220
that that's a very unstable bond,
link |
02:08:23.480
that person A is actually very susceptible
link |
02:08:26.140
to the attractiveness of others
link |
02:08:27.440
because they're so desperately attached
link |
02:08:29.680
to this notion of self-expansion,
link |
02:08:31.180
even if they don't realize it.
link |
02:08:32.520
And so this really does point to the idea
link |
02:08:34.320
that while it is important
link |
02:08:36.520
to link our autonomic nervous systems
link |
02:08:38.880
to establish desire, love, and attachment,
link |
02:08:42.340
that we want to have a stable internal representation
link |
02:08:45.880
of ourselves, a stable autonomic nervous system
link |
02:08:49.120
to some degree or another,
link |
02:08:50.460
so that we can be in stable romantic partnership
link |
02:08:54.640
with another individual
link |
02:08:55.680
if that's what we're really trying to do.
link |
02:08:57.380
So until now, I've been weaving together studies
link |
02:08:59.200
from the field of experimental psychology
link |
02:09:01.960
and the fields of neuroscience,
link |
02:09:03.800
in particular, neuroimaging.
link |
02:09:06.140
But if you recall back to the very beginning of the episode
link |
02:09:10.440
when I was discussing how odors and how hormones
link |
02:09:15.400
and how even birth control can shape people's ratings
link |
02:09:18.460
of attractiveness of others,
link |
02:09:21.760
you'll realize that there's a deeper layer to all this,
link |
02:09:24.680
which is that our biology that resides below
link |
02:09:29.280
our conscious awareness, things like our hormones,
link |
02:09:33.160
things like pheromones even,
link |
02:09:36.180
are shaping the way that we choose, interpret, and act
link |
02:09:42.920
with other potential romantic partners
link |
02:09:45.080
or the romantic partners that we already have.
link |
02:09:48.360
Now, this cannot be overemphasized, right?
link |
02:09:52.640
No matter how much we would like to create
link |
02:09:56.020
a sort of top-down description,
link |
02:09:58.420
meaning from the cortex and our understanding of things
link |
02:10:01.820
onto what we find attractive, who we find attractive,
link |
02:10:04.640
what we enjoy, what we don't enjoy in the pursuit
link |
02:10:07.600
and romantic interactions with others,
link |
02:10:10.720
there always seems to be, and indeed there always is,
link |
02:10:14.140
a deeper layer in which our subconscious processing
link |
02:10:18.080
drives us to find a particular person
link |
02:10:20.820
to be particularly attractive,
link |
02:10:22.520
or in which we have chemistry with somebody,
link |
02:10:26.000
or in which we lack chemistry with somebody.
link |
02:10:29.200
And I would say that one of the more exciting, fascinating,
link |
02:10:33.760
and indeed mysterious aspects of desire, love,
link |
02:10:37.840
and attachment are those subconscious processes,
link |
02:10:41.360
those things that we call chemistry, right?
link |
02:10:44.040
I mean, people will report, for instance,
link |
02:10:46.260
that somebody's smell is just absolutely
link |
02:10:49.440
positively intoxicating for them,
link |
02:10:51.440
or that somebody's smell is absolutely repulsive to them,
link |
02:10:53.840
and they don't know why.
link |
02:10:55.740
That the taste of someone's breath,
link |
02:10:58.280
and I don't mean that in any kind of poetic sense,
link |
02:11:00.600
I literally mean the taste of somebody's breath,
link |
02:11:03.560
in some cases, can be very exciting to somebody.
link |
02:11:07.320
And believe it or not, we can taste each other's breath.
link |
02:11:09.840
I talked about this in the chemical sensing episode
link |
02:11:13.400
some months back, but we actually have receptors
link |
02:11:17.080
for taste and smell that engage in coordinated action,
link |
02:11:20.320
such that we can't really separate taste and smell
link |
02:11:23.280
at some level, and this is especially true
link |
02:11:25.740
when it comes to the formation of romantic relationships
link |
02:11:28.360
and what we call chemistry.
link |
02:11:30.040
Now, is chemistry absolutely required
link |
02:11:32.800
for forming stable attachments for love and for desire?
link |
02:11:36.880
No, of course they're not.
link |
02:11:38.800
But in general, these are primitive mechanisms
link |
02:11:42.820
that exist in all animals.
link |
02:11:44.440
They exist in special forms in humans,
link |
02:11:47.360
but that they drive us toward behaviors that will,
link |
02:11:52.140
as the theory goes, lead to love and attachment.
link |
02:11:55.560
Not always, as Dr. Fisher pointed out,
link |
02:11:58.220
that sex and sex drive is one way
link |
02:12:00.780
to explore potential love relationships
link |
02:12:03.200
and to explore potential attachments,
link |
02:12:05.800
which of course are major investments
link |
02:12:08.440
that extend well beyond one night or a week
link |
02:12:11.240
or a vacation or even a year.
link |
02:12:13.420
When we talk about stable attachments in general,
link |
02:12:15.920
that means long-term attachments in humans.
link |
02:12:18.840
Now, there is a biology to all of that chemistry stuff,
link |
02:12:24.360
and the studies of oral contraception
link |
02:12:27.300
and men finding women more attractive
link |
02:12:29.440
at certain phases of their menstrual cycle
link |
02:12:32.480
and women finding men more attractive
link |
02:12:34.520
at certain phases of the woman's menstrual cycle
link |
02:12:37.880
point to the incredible power
link |
02:12:39.600
of those deeper biological mechanisms.
link |
02:12:43.060
In the Huberman Lab podcast,
link |
02:12:44.640
I discussed both science and science-based tools,
link |
02:12:47.600
and so I'd be remiss if I didn't actually cover
link |
02:12:50.740
some of the tools that relate
link |
02:12:52.320
to those deeper biological mechanisms.
link |
02:12:55.100
Now, the hormones testosterone and estrogen
link |
02:12:59.100
are almost always the first biological chemicals
link |
02:13:02.640
and hormones that are mentioned and described and explored
link |
02:13:06.580
when thinking about desire
link |
02:13:09.820
and love and attachment too, for that matter,
link |
02:13:12.360
since love and attachment stem from desire.
link |
02:13:16.760
I did an entire episode about the biology
link |
02:13:19.600
of testosterone and estrogen
link |
02:13:21.520
and ways to optimize testosterone and estrogen.
link |
02:13:25.140
You can easily find that episode at HubermanLab.com.
link |
02:13:28.480
It's timestamped.
link |
02:13:29.400
There you can find all sorts of information
link |
02:13:31.200
about how certain behaviors or absence of behaviors
link |
02:13:34.820
drive up or down testosterone and estrogen.
link |
02:13:37.680
I also dispel some myths about sexual behavior
link |
02:13:41.120
and things like masturbation
link |
02:13:42.560
and how they relate to testosterone and estrogen,
link |
02:13:45.680
as well as some myths about how those hormones change
link |
02:13:48.480
across the lifespan.
link |
02:13:49.560
I also talk about the role of exercise.
link |
02:13:52.580
I talk about supplementation,
link |
02:13:54.040
and I also talk a little bit
link |
02:13:55.580
about hormone replacement therapy,
link |
02:13:57.100
although that will be the topic for a future episode.
link |
02:13:59.680
So if you're interested in the biology
link |
02:14:01.160
of testosterone and estrogen,
link |
02:14:02.600
two hormones that absolutely influence things
link |
02:14:05.440
like libido and desire,
link |
02:14:07.700
please check out that episode
link |
02:14:08.920
as well as what I'm going to talk about in just a moment.
link |
02:14:12.220
The simple stereotyped version
link |
02:14:13.920
of the hormones testosterone and estrogen
link |
02:14:16.860
are that testosterone drives libido
link |
02:14:19.680
or increases it, AKA sex drive,
link |
02:14:21.800
and that estrogen somehow blunts it
link |
02:14:23.980
or is not involved in libido and sex drive.
link |
02:14:26.840
And that is simply not the case.
link |
02:14:29.000
As I described in that
link |
02:14:30.540
testosterone and estrogen optimization episode,
link |
02:14:33.180
and as I'll tell you now,
link |
02:14:35.020
yes, testosterone and some of its other forms
link |
02:14:38.800
like dihydrotestosterone are strongly related
link |
02:14:42.120
to libido and sex drive and the pursuit
link |
02:14:45.400
and ability to mate.
link |
02:14:46.560
However, the hormone estrogen is also strongly associated
link |
02:14:51.440
with libido and mating behavior.
link |
02:14:53.640
So much so that for people that either chemically
link |
02:14:57.780
or for some other reason have very low estrogen,
link |
02:15:00.960
libido can severely suffer.
link |
02:15:02.920
So it's a coordinated dance of estrogen and testosterone
link |
02:15:06.240
in both males and females that leads to libido
link |
02:15:09.320
or sex drive.
link |
02:15:10.360
So I absolutely wanted to make clear
link |
02:15:13.360
that it's not a simple relationship
link |
02:15:16.600
between testosterone and sex drive
link |
02:15:18.520
or estrogen and sex drive.
link |
02:15:19.560
Both are required at appropriate ratios.
link |
02:15:23.280
Now, with that said,
link |
02:15:26.080
there are things that can shift libido
link |
02:15:30.400
in both men and women in the direction
link |
02:15:33.600
of more desire or more desire to mate,
link |
02:15:37.000
either to seek mates or to mate with existing partners.
link |
02:15:41.720
And there's a quite solid literature
link |
02:15:44.300
around a few of those substances.
link |
02:15:46.720
Now, a common misconception is that because dopamine
link |
02:15:49.560
is involved in motivation and drive,
link |
02:15:52.200
that simply increasing dopamine
link |
02:15:54.240
through any number of different mechanisms or tools
link |
02:15:57.440
will increase libido and sex drive.
link |
02:15:59.880
And that's simply not the case either.
link |
02:16:04.040
It is true that some level of dopamine
link |
02:16:08.460
or increase in dopamine is required
link |
02:16:11.080
for increases in libido.
link |
02:16:14.200
However, because of dopamine's relationship
link |
02:16:16.620
to the autonomic nervous system,
link |
02:16:18.400
and because the autonomic nervous system
link |
02:16:21.200
is so intimately involved, no pun intended,
link |
02:16:24.400
in sexual activity in seeking and actual mating behavior
link |
02:16:28.760
as I described earlier,
link |
02:16:30.560
it's actually the case that if people
link |
02:16:32.680
drive their dopamine system too high,
link |
02:16:35.640
they will be in states of arousal that are high enough
link |
02:16:40.640
such that they seek and want sexual activity,
link |
02:16:44.400
but they can't actually engage the parasympathetic arm
link |
02:16:47.420
of the autonomic nervous system sufficient
link |
02:16:49.240
to become physically aroused.
link |
02:16:51.200
Now, there's a whole description of this
link |
02:16:53.800
that awaits us in a future episode,
link |
02:16:55.540
but I'll summarize now by saying
link |
02:16:58.060
for people that are taking substances
link |
02:17:01.180
just simply to increase dopamine,
link |
02:17:04.720
in order to increase libido,
link |
02:17:06.520
that can be a potentially hazardous route to follow
link |
02:17:09.800
because depending on whether or not that dopamine level
link |
02:17:13.840
is high enough that it puts them into a mode
link |
02:17:16.820
of seeking mates or mating,
link |
02:17:20.880
but they can't adjust their autonomic nervous system
link |
02:17:23.800
during actual mating behavior,
link |
02:17:25.440
what essentially is I'm saying is it can place people
link |
02:17:27.440
into a chronic pursuit,
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02:17:29.020
but an inability to perform sexually.
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02:17:30.960
And this is true for men and women, okay?
link |
02:17:33.520
So I would just caution people against just thinking,
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02:17:37.200
oh, a lack of libido is simply a lack of dopamine.
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02:17:40.760
That is not the case.
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02:17:41.920
It could be from lower levels of dopamine,
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02:17:44.820
but it could also be for other reasons.
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02:17:47.680
And so these systems, these signaling systems
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02:17:50.040
and these neurochemicals are very intricate
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02:17:53.120
and just simply ramping up dopamine
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02:17:55.800
has actually been found for instance,
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02:17:58.160
in amphetamine and cocaine users,
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02:18:00.060
there is a phenomenon in which they become hyper aroused,
link |
02:18:02.480
but can't perform sexually.
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02:18:03.720
This is also true for people who take elevated levels
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02:18:06.720
of other recreational drugs or who take antidepressants
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02:18:11.040
that increase the dopamine system too much, right?
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02:18:14.200
Dosage has to be worked out with your physician,
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02:18:17.000
with your psychiatrist, such that mood is enhanced
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02:18:21.000
and the various aspects of a healthy wellbeing,
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02:18:24.720
mind and body are enhanced,
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02:18:26.020
but not so much so that that what we call the arousal arc
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02:18:29.400
is locked with the seesaw in the sympathetic drive position
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02:18:34.520
such that sexual arousal can't occur, okay?
link |
02:18:37.560
So this is an important point to make
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02:18:39.900
because I think that a lot of people are under the impression
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02:18:43.320
that if they just drive up testosterone, increase dopamine,
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02:18:47.080
and generally get themselves
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02:18:48.580
into high states of autonomic arousal,
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02:18:50.240
that that's going to increase their libido,
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02:18:52.520
but that's simply not the way the system works.
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02:18:54.620
It's that seesaw and that seesawing back and forth
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02:18:57.580
that is the arc of arousal that we talked about earlier.
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02:19:01.280
Now, there are substances,
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02:19:03.920
legal over-the-counter substances
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02:19:06.440
that fall under the categorization of supplements
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02:19:09.260
that do indeed increase libido and arousal.
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02:19:13.140
And so I'm going to talk about some of those
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02:19:14.440
in the context of peer reviewed literature now.
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02:19:17.620
I want to be clear, however,
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02:19:18.960
that these are by no means required.
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02:19:21.600
Many people have healthy libidos
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02:19:22.980
or have libidos that are healthy for their life
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02:19:26.400
and what they need and want.
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02:19:29.360
And as always, in any discussion about supplementation,
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02:19:32.500
you absolutely have to check with your physician.
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02:19:34.360
I don't just say that to protect us.
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02:19:35.640
I say that to protect you.
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02:19:37.120
Your health and wellbeing is dependent on you
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02:19:38.920
doing certain things and not doing others,
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02:19:40.540
and everybody is different.
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02:19:42.080
Nonetheless, there are studies
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02:19:43.640
that point to specific substances
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02:19:45.800
that are sold over-the-counter
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02:19:47.440
that at least in the United States are legal
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02:19:49.320
and that have been shown to be statistically significant
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02:19:53.540
in increasing measures of libido.
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02:19:56.160
There are many such substances,
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02:19:58.440
but three that in particular
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02:20:00.920
have good peer reviewed research to support them
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02:20:04.240
are MACA, M-A-C-A, which is actually a root.
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02:20:10.400
Tongat Ali, also sometimes called longjack.
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02:20:13.160
I didn't name them, forgive me.
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02:20:14.940
And tribulus, or tribulus it's sometimes called.
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02:20:18.800
I'm going to talk about each of these in sequence,
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02:20:21.440
but on the whole,
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02:20:24.720
the studies on MACA are quite convincing
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02:20:27.960
that consumption of two to three grams per day of MACA,
link |
02:20:33.400
which generally is sold as a powder or a capsule,
link |
02:20:38.240
typically consumed early in the day
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02:20:40.000
because it can be somewhat of a stimulant,
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02:20:42.020
meaning it can increase alertness
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02:20:44.040
and you wouldn't want it to interfere with sleep
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02:20:46.940
by taking it too late in the day.
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02:20:48.640
But in studies that include both men and women
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02:20:51.940
of durations anywhere from eight to 12 weeks
link |
02:20:55.320
of athletes and non-athletes
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02:20:57.480
and different variations of MACA,
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02:21:00.520
turns out there's black MACA, red MACA, yellow MACA.
link |
02:21:03.600
There are a bunch of different forms of MACA,
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02:21:06.080
but that they can increase subjective reports
link |
02:21:10.040
of sexual desire independent of hormone systems.
link |
02:21:15.160
Meaning it does not seem,
link |
02:21:16.760
at least based on the existing literature,
link |
02:21:19.040
that MACA increases testosterone or changes estrogen,
link |
02:21:22.080
at least not on the timescales that these studies were done
link |
02:21:24.920
or with the measures that were performed in these studies.
link |
02:21:27.760
But that MACA, again, consumed in doses
link |
02:21:31.520
of anywhere from two to three grams per day
link |
02:21:34.240
has been shown to significantly increase libido.
link |
02:21:37.520
And in fact, those dosages of MACA have been shown
link |
02:21:41.820
to offset so-called SSRI induced sexual dysfunction.
link |
02:21:47.280
So there are various routes to sexual dysfunction.
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02:21:51.060
The SSRIs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
link |
02:21:55.140
They go by name brands like Prozac and Zoloft,
link |
02:21:57.280
and there are many others now,
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02:21:58.640
and generic forms and so forth.
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02:22:00.660
Those don't always, I should point out,
link |
02:22:03.620
lead to sexual dysfunction.
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02:22:04.920
There's a dose dependence.
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02:22:06.880
Some people do quite well on SSRIs
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02:22:09.660
and don't have any issues with sexual function.
link |
02:22:11.660
Other people suffer quite a lot from sexual dysfunction
link |
02:22:15.280
while taking SSRIs, highly variable.
link |
02:22:18.040
You need to work with a physician, a qualified psychiatrist.
link |
02:22:22.840
But nonetheless, everything I've been saying
link |
02:22:25.300
about MACA thus far has also been explored
link |
02:22:29.400
in the context of SSRI induced sexual dysfunction.
link |
02:22:32.000
The paper that I'm referring to here
link |
02:22:34.960
is a double-blind randomized pilot dose finding study
link |
02:22:37.840
of MACA root.
link |
02:22:39.020
It goes by the name LMIENI.
link |
02:22:41.920
These always have fancy names,
link |
02:22:43.160
and the Latin names in biology are always more complicated,
link |
02:22:45.780
but it's MACA root for the management of SSRI
link |
02:22:48.520
induced sexual dysfunction.
link |
02:22:49.880
First author is Doerding, D-O-R-D-I-N-G.
link |
02:22:53.640
This was a study done at Mass General,
link |
02:22:56.040
which is one of the satellite locations around Harvard.
link |
02:22:59.960
Harvard Med, it's associated with Harvard Med,
link |
02:23:02.740
that found significant improvements in libido
link |
02:23:06.940
when people were taking a pretty low dose.
link |
02:23:08.880
It was actually, in this case, just 1.5 grams per day,
link |
02:23:13.280
up to a high dose, three grams per day of MACA.
link |
02:23:16.840
And they were doing this
link |
02:23:17.920
in 20 remitted depressed outpatients.
link |
02:23:20.560
So these are people that had depression.
link |
02:23:22.120
Their depression was successfully treated with SSRIs,
link |
02:23:25.000
but they were suffering
link |
02:23:25.960
from some of these SSRI-related sexual effects,
link |
02:23:28.560
and MACA seemed to offset some of those effects
link |
02:23:31.420
significantly in this population.
link |
02:23:33.660
The other studies exploring the lack of effect
link |
02:23:37.380
on serum testosterone in adult healthy men
link |
02:23:41.200
was a 12-week study,
link |
02:23:42.720
again, consuming anywhere from 1.5 to 3 milligrams,
link |
02:23:46.640
meaning, excuse me, 1,500 milligrams to 3,000 milligrams
link |
02:23:50.520
or placebo.
link |
02:23:51.340
So again, this is 1.5 up to three grams of MACA or placebo,
link |
02:23:56.840
and they rated sexual desire, depression,
link |
02:24:00.680
and other measures such as testosterone in the blood.
link |
02:24:04.600
Again, no change in testosterone or estrogen,
link |
02:24:08.520
estradiol levels in men treated with MACA
link |
02:24:11.040
and those treated with placebo.
link |
02:24:12.540
But nonetheless, there was a significant
link |
02:24:15.440
and positive effect on libido
link |
02:24:17.400
with this dosage of 1.5 to three grams per day of MACA.
link |
02:24:21.160
And there are several other studies that also show this,
link |
02:24:24.920
again, in people that are taking SSRIs
link |
02:24:28.480
and people that are not taking SSRIs
link |
02:24:31.200
in chronically over-trained athletes.